PARIS ’97: day 1: the flight from hell

American Airlines can just bite me.
We got on the plane in SF to Chicago and it was your run of the mill flight, they played Jerry Macguire, but cut out my favorite part where Cuba Gooding, Jr. says “Did you shoplift the bootie?” Bummer. So, no big deal.
We get to Chicago and do the layover thing and get on the plane to Paris. I quote the immortal words of Homer Simpson, “Woo Hoo!”
Well, the flight is about 7 hours long. So we are already pooped and uncomfortable from the first 4 hours leg of the flight. But, being a good little camper who wants to go to Paris, I buck up and just wiggle around a lot to keep what passes for circulation in my body.
About 3 1/2 hours into the flight, we were over Newfoundland, I believe, the captain comes over the intercom with his very loud, very nasal voice and says “Ladies and Gentlemen, we have lost one of our in flight navigation systems and will have to go back to Chicago since we can’t go over the water without a redundant system.”
Getting another nav system didn’t wig me out, It was flying ALL the way back to Chicago that really set everyone’s hair on edge. I did particularly hear the smokers who hadn’t had a cig in about 4-5 hours.
After a near mutiny, the captain conceded us going to New York to either repair the plane or get a new one if its available. But that wasn’t all he said, he threw in this little jibe about “All of you who actually understand aviation will know why we should have gone back to Chicago.” Well, those of us who do actually know about aviation got ticked off. But we sat down and took the 2 hours back to New York like good little drones.
We we got to NY, we were told in no uncertain terms that we weren’t going to be able to get off the plane or move around or eat or smoke or….well,Ii think you get the picture. Also this Customer Relations ‘manager’ who was supposed to answer any questions we may have had, basically said “Sit back in your seats or I will call security” and to a woman who was meeting her 7 year old child in Paris who wanted the airline to contact her kid and let her know that she would be late replied “I have more important things to do.”
That’s when the serious predatory instinct kicked in.
To the stewards and stewardesses credit, they were trying to making things comfortable and get us some leeway, but to no avail.
Eventually, the repairmen who were determining the status of the repairs, declared the plane irreparable and we had to change planes. I think they realized that we were a crazed mob who had been stuck in our tiny little seats for 6 hours and still had a 7 hour flight ahead of us as well…..and they hadn’t fed me recently either. Always a bad sign.
So 2 1/2 hours later, after swiftly removing any traces of that heinous CR rep so that we wouldn’t BBQ her on a spit, we got back onto a fresh plane with a new crew and captain who didn’t have such a whiny little voice. They toadied up very nicely and fed me immediately. The cool thing though was that these seats had those little video monitors in the back of the seat with a kind of remote control in the arm rest. The remote was extremely cool, you could switch channels, do the volume etc, and switch over to radio, but, you could also turn it sideways and play Nintendo or flip it over completely and it was a credit card airphone! Also it has a setting where you could look at the status of the flight:position, time remaining, miles/km remaining, and outside airspeed temp etc. Yes, placate me with gadgets every time.
Unfortunately, I was so exhausted that I played with the toy a little and passed out in those uncomfortable chairs. We got to Paris at 3 pm and luckily enough our ride to the apartment knew we were going to be late and came back for us. Customs even stamped my passport..they are notorious for seeing my American passport and waving me on through-you can’t even beg them for a stamp. The last time I went to Europe I don’t have a single incident in my passport that would even look like I was there. Siggghhhh.
We get to the apartment and get settled and immediately go in search of food. We end up wandering around North of the Arc de Triumphe on the Blvd Grand Armees at a brasserie, where I had confit de canard avec frites (candied duck with garlicky fries)…WONDERFUL!!!! We sat outside and talked for quite a while, then went back home where we all went comatose for about 11 hours.
total miles walked:approximately 5

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