June 2004


IND-CVG-FRA, part 2

I would have had patience with the delay, if it weren’t for the fact that Delta‘s employees weren’t so clueless and outright lied to me. The sole point of comfort was that their lying was not due to maliciousness, it was due to stupidity.

The flight from Indianapolis (IND) to Cincinnati (CVG, actually Covington, Kentucky) is only 98 miles and is in the air for approximately 20 minutes. Our revised departure time was 4:30, and, when I found out that the flight from CVG to IND had not left until 3:45 Hoosier Time, I asked if my connection was still going to work. They said yes – my flight would land at 6pm and I would have an hour. Unbelievably two separate agents that I talked to did not realize that there was a time difference. It was painfully obvious that we would not board the plane until closer to 5 (6pm at CVG) and that the connection was going to be extremely tight.

That complaining aside, I made it. I was happy that I had opted for seat 4A on the small little plane for flight 5751-I charged off the plane at CVG, sprinted across the concourse, onto a shuttle bus, across the tarmac, up the stairs, a quick trip to the bathroom and then onto the plane. Total time elapsed-less than 10 minutes. The door to the plane shut about 5 minutes after I got on. So much for the “you must be on board 45 minutes in advance for security purposes” that the airlines seem to state continuously.

Delta’s Flight 48, CVG to FRA, found me in seat 26A, a non-descript window seat over the wing on a 767-300. My charming seatmate was Stephanie (I saw her name on her boarding card), a high school student who had been in America for 10 months as part of a foreign exchange program. She was definitely pro-America-and loved Malibu-where she had lived for the year.

Flying internationally on Delta was clearly a very different experience from flying internationally on Northwest. Clearly Northwest has Delta beaten on ground services: Northwest has far better technology that enhances the customer experience. Northwest also has an edge in domestic services-my equivalent connecting flights on NW from IND are always on mainline jets-which are, without a doubt, more comfortable than regional jets even if they are ancient DC-9s.

However, Delta’s far more polished in the visuals of international services. Discounting the fact that the audio on my seat didn’t work (sound out of one ear only unless I jiggled the connector carefully), Delta had a very specific order of movies and programming on the entertainment system. The flight also had a menu, even in coach-something I’ve never seen in my life-something I thought was for business class only.

I ended up having the “Southwest Chicken” entree with Coke. Strike against Delta: alcoholic beverages are not free on international flights, unlike NW. (My vague impression from FlyerTalk is that NW might be one of the only US flagged carriers to still give free liquor on international flights.) The food was, uh- airline food.

I put on my mp3 player, started the tunes, and pretty much fell asleep for some period of time. I would guess that I got between three and four hours of sleep on the plane, which was pretty good. I did some reading-both of my own material and of magazines on the plane. (Random letter summary from Conde Nast Traveler Magazine: “Why do you principally list hotels in the $200 and up range. My husband and I like to spend around $150 a night and occasionally splurge on the expensive hotels.”) In other words, I did what one usually does on an 8 hour flight, and I did it very well.

Our flight arrived at the gate in Frankfurt about 10 minutes behind schedule, and I made my way through immigration, got my bags unbelievably fast (I think that was the only bonus of my flight from IND being so horribly late), walked through customs, boarded the inter-terminal bus to get to terminal 1 and the train station, went down the stairs, hopped on the S-8 and took it to the Frankfurt HBF (main train station), where I wanted to use the WC. However, I had two bags with me and the WC was down some stairs, so I held and boarded my train.

The train from Frankfurt to Jena took about three hours, including the change at the Frankfurt HBF, previously described, and one at Weimar-my future home town. The train from the HBF to Weimar was on an ICE train–InterCity Express- or something like that. Since I’m one of the paranoid travelers who’s afraid that my suitcases are going to be stolen whist I am asleep, this train was great. I was able to sleep because the train didn’t stop very often. In fact it was close to an hour before the first station, and I managed to slept the first half hour of the ride-in fact I remember seeing the conductor pass me going to the front of the train and then when he came to collect my ticket, he materialized from behind me.

I switched trains in Weimar which in the space of 6 minutes involved getting off the first train, carrying two suitcases down the stairs, under the tracks, up another set of stairs and onto the second train. I am a firm believer in traveling light, so this maneuver was really annoying and heavy.

15 minutes later I was at “Jena West”-off the train where I was met by Rui and Max-who then gave me a lift to where I am staying. Thank goodness for that. Jena is not flat and I was exhausted. It was 14:15.

Travel Thoughts: New Airlines: 2– Delta/Comair and Delta. New Airport: CVG.

2 comments to IND-CVG-FRA, part 2

  • koko

    I’ve always had a menu on flights…the trick for me is ordering veg a head of time!

  • Chris C

    I remember how great it was to see you at the end of my journey through the customs hall at London Heathrow last year.

    I also remember how tight my connection in Toronto was and that you nearly got to ask yourself, “Where is Chris?” while waiting with all those people at LHR. Normally that kind of connection would not be difficult, but I had to clear Canadian customs which meant that I couldn’t just walk across the terminal to my next plane.

    Pearson airport was in the middle of a huge reconstruction effort not to mention that it had a gate numbering system that was INCREDIBLY confusing if you had never been to that airport.

    Fortunately, I think the reconstruction at Toronto’s Pearson airport is/was being done so that clearing customs is unnecessary unless you are staying in Canada.