June 2004



So I am writing this portion of the blog whilst I am sitting onboard Delta Flight 15, with service from Frankfurt to Atlanta, Georgia. Last night, when we checked in at the hotel, I asked for the 9:00 shuttle, but since it was full, I had to opt for the 9:30 shuttle, which, as it turned out was more than enough time.

Delta operates out of Frankfurt’s Terminal 2, which, as it turns out, seems to be a 10 minute drive beyond Terminal 1. I popped into Terminal 2, and without looking went over to the “D” portion of check-in. I guess I must have once read somewhere that Delta was in that part of the terminal. I got in the medallion check-in line and a few minutes later was asked if I was medallion.

“No, Northwest Silver.”

A minute later, after she had finished processing the people in front of me, I got to have my little security interview, in which I must have quickly passed because once she asked the luggage question I got to see a check-in agent. Thankfully at no point did I ever have to show my elite card-you know, the expired one that I brought by mistake. I was through check-in in less than 10 minutes. I briefly felt sorry for people standing in the normal economy check-in line, but such emotions passed fairly quickly.

I went up the escalator got in the ticket checking line, then got my passport inspected, went through security, part one, before finding the VAT refund office. I handed the woman my form and she looked at it and then asked me where the shoes were. I lifted up my foot and said “on me.” She stamped the form.

Ten steps later and 30 seconds, I was in possession of my €5 refund. The woman at Global Refund asked me if I had wanted dollars or €uros, and I immediately opted for €uros.

While waiting in line for Security, Part 2, I called J and thanked her for everything she’d done for me. Security part two was a somewhat longer line and I quickly grew to dislike my fellow Americans. They are, indeed, an ugly bunch.

The girls behind me were bitching about having to stand in line, a second time, for security. After only a few minutes of bitching, I pointed out that in the post 9/11 and in the shoe bomb era, we must endure. Of course I didn’t say that I find much of the security silly, but I believe that security in Europe is probably better than security at airports in the United States.

I got into the gate area and boarded with my group. Seat 46J was, when I signed up for it, a terrific seat, bulkhead in a 2-5-2 arrangement, I was going to have a splendid trip. However, Delta is in the process of changing these into a 3-3-3 arrangement, and in that arrangement, 46-J is average. Nicely the gentleman in 46H, the seat to my left was right behind me. He’s from somewhere in northern Germany, north of Hamburg, and on his way to El Paso, as part of some kind of military thing. He’s at least cute.

— ok, so I quit writing at this point until I got off the plane. After the flight landed, the guy told me that he wouldn’t be getting to El Paso until 8:30 and that he wouldn’t call his wife until tomorrow-dammit, he’s straight! And with child-a five year old who doesn’t understand that Daddy is going to be gone for five weeks: unfortunately the child has several days of crying ahead, although I suppose I feel more for the mother.

Anyway, so the ugly American thing: I told the cute guy that I was going to be moving to Germany and that I was trying to learn a few words of German-I mean, I’m going to be moving there, the least I can do is make an effort. The girl sitting on the aisle said, “I’ve only learned 4 German words.” I would have dismissed this girl as an average girl, until I mentioned that I’d spent three hours trying to configure my phone service. This girl had done this before me and told me that it’d taken her four weeks, “That’s what happens when it’s a monopoly,” she complained.

I pointed out that, essentially, phone service is a monopoly in the United States as well. She didn’t think so, and we kind of left it at that. Obviously she’s never tried to deal with SBC / Ameritech / whatever its current name is. While certainly it doesn’t take four weeks to get phone service installed, it can be a trying experience talking to the dimwits who typically answer the phones at SBC.

Personally, I suspect that this bitch (ok, I finally said it) had been a bitch to whomever tried to help her at T-Punkt, and got corresponding service. Clearly she hadn’t made any effort to try and learn any German, which I suspect is somewhat standoffish.

Effort is everything here – Hopefully my stumbling and, albeit bad, German will help me along. Hopefully my German will get better with time as well.

Anyway, my flight landed in ATL and got to the gate on-time (new airport for me!), however the lines at immigration were quite long and the girl who had sat on the aisle was about five people in front of me. She’d lost her landing card and had to fill out the card while standing in line. Because of the immigration set-up, my line had three potential agents; the agent on the far left was obviously an expert and was handling people at about the rate of one every 45 seconds. Dumb girl had to talk to agent for three minutes or so. By random selection I got this agent as well-I was in and out in less than 45 seconds.

By the time I went through all of this and got into baggage claim, my suitcases had already lapped the belt and I was through the green line shortly after and on my way to concourse A, where I sit typing this.

My flight to IND has been delayed from its original departure time of 17:00 to 18:20 or so. I believe the plane, fresh from Little Rock has just arrived. Thunderstorms in the area have been causing delays, and, unfortunately, the plane is not overbooked.

(Written Monday from here on out) The flight to IND was pretty much boring. Since I was sitting in back, I got to par-take of “fast-break” service, which is apparently Delta’s code for, “We’re too lazy to try and give you a choice on a flight of 62 minutes.” I got to Indy, got my car, and went home and was in bed at 22:00. I don’t think there’s any jetlag-that I’m aware of. I woke briefly at 3 and slept until my alarm went off at 6:45.

3 comments to FRA-ATL-IND

  • Chris C

    My, you are cranky! 🙂 Fast-break is the service Delta has on the short flights of under 1 1/2 hours I think.

    I got frustrated like the girl you speak of when I was standing in line at Heathrow last year. Of course, they told me I didn’t have a seat, so I was a bit upset thinking I might be stranded. All that really happened was that a block of fresh seats had not be released or something. Once I realized that I was happy. I figured it was due to the differences in how people overseas do things. Now that I know to look for it, it should be a non-issue the next time I travel.

    I guess the difference between myself and the girl you’re speaking of is that I recognize things are different in other countries. I’m always amazed at how many Americans think the US Constitution follows them wherever they go globally.

    Oh, you were running through Atlanta at the same time my pals from Las Vegas were running around there. Odd… three of my friends at the same airport traveling home from their trips.

  • Interesting. On NWA, in 41 IND-DTW minutes you get a complete choice of beverages. In Europe, on full-service airlines, you would probably also get a sandwich.

  • Chris C

    Of course with the economy the way it has been the last couple of years many of the services all of us took as customary have gone away. I’d prefer to see a slightly longer connection time at the hubs rather than meal service myself. I usually prefer being able to have a wider variety of foods available by purchasing in the terminal rather than the stuff given on the plane. Having the time to actually pick it up in the terminal instead of doing the OJ Simpson sprint across the airport to make your connection would be nice.

    The US domestic industry is geared towards business travelers, so the connections will remain tight. Business travelers dislike waiting for planes (though the Southwest model contradicts this) more than they dislike not having food choices since their companies or clients pick up the tab at the destination.

    I think the weak dollar has quite a bit to do with this as well. When your customers are accustomed to traveling across the US for less than $300 from one coast to the other and your currency value goes down globally, your fuel costs skyrocket. If a Euro or Sterling based carrier has passengers accustomed to going the same distance for �300, they of course can afford more amenities since their fuel cost is less on a 1 to 1 basis in their currency vs. US. Then again fuel taxes are higher overseas… oh hell, I give up. 🙂