Ok so I said maybe two weeks, but I was bored so I decided to type up my return from France as well.
Here is the return portion of my trip to Paris.
December 30th, 2000
We spent seven wonderful days in Paris, which is really not enough time. Over that week we had taken a city lights tour, a Normandy Beach day tour, walked the Champs Elysee (sp?), went to that really big cemetery (sorry, I forgot the name), and of course did the whole Eiffel Tower thing. They really like to cram a lot of people into those elevators up to the very top. I think my elevator was over its max capacity. When we weren’t doing any of the abovementioned we were walking around the city enjoying the sights and the cool weather.
Then came that sad but happy day when it was finally time for us to pack our bags and come home. It was sad because we were leaving and there was still so much we wanted to do. Happy because it would be my first time on the A340, a flight that I was really looking forward to.
At 7:00 am we were picked up from our hotel and taken to Charles de Gaulle International Airport. At about 8:00 we found ourselves in Departure Hall C. I thought the individual conveyor belts at each check-in counter was an interesting idea, especially because I had never seen that before. After check in we proceeded to our gate. Our aircraft was not actually parked next to a jet way, but rather out at one of the parking positions, making it impossible to tell which of the several A340s was ours. I noticed several other aircraft in that area, including a SIA 744, AF 777s, 747s, A310s, and A340s galore.
Our departure gate was linked with that of an AF 744 going to LAX, making the gate area extremely crowded. There was mass confusion as well because departure time for my flight had been nearing and there was no announcement made about the flights status. There was a lot of ground fog that day, and so I was expecting some sort of delay. It was finally announced that boarding would begin at 10:00 am. Just 15 minutes before scheduled departure time. We weren’t leaving on time.
Air France/Delta Codeshare
Delta Flight 8200
First A340 Flight
First Airbus Widebody Flight
Most Tortuously Boring Flight
Longest Flight Ever Up To This Point
Most Boring Flight In the History Of Commercial Air Travel
At 10:15 my family boarded the aircraft, and we made our way back to economy, again passing through Le’Espace 120, which was configured 2x2x2. Economy was the 2x4x2 configuration, which so many airlines and Airbus call 2x2x2x2. How do they get away with that? This time we were in the rear section of the aircraft. AS we entered coach I took a glance at the back of the seats. DAMN, no PTVs. This was going to be a long flight.
The cabin was filled with the smell of fresh breakfast, which had probably remained from that aircraft’s previous flight from wherever. I moseyed my way back to seat 42A (I think that is what it was.). The seats were just behind the section where the floor makes its ever so slight tilt upward. The seats we had were larger that the 777 seats, and the legroom was about the same, but there were no adjustable headrests. There was also a doublewide armrest between my seat and 42B.
We didn’t move from our parking area until about 11:00am. Parked next to us was a Delta 763ER going to Cincinnati. We taxied to the other side of the airport, past two UAL 777s, one of which my grandparents were on for their flight to ORD. In front of us for takeoff was a very loud IL-86 of some Russian airline. After a TWA 767-200 landed we pulled onto the runway and at 11:15 we lifted off into the clear French skies for our 9 hour 30 minute flight back to ATL.
As I had heard, the A340 did have a weaker takeoff than other widebodies I had been on. Another AF340 climbed out with us after departing from the parallel runway. We climbed over the green French countryside, and eventually over the English Channel. It took us 45 minutes to get to cruising altitude. Overflying London I saw the River Thames and I think Big Ben. Northern England seemed to be covered in white snow. We then overflew Ireland, and out over the Atlantic Waters. Lunch was served over England, but unfortunately I cannot remember what it was except that the dessert was some type of apple crisp or apple pie. I do remember cheese and bread accompanying the lunch though.
The next 6 hours can best be described as this. . . . . . . clouds, water, clouds, water, clouds, water, clouds, water, clouds, water, clouds, water, clouds, water, clouds, water. There was really no point in me looking out the window. So I closed it to get some sleep and to keep the bright sun from shining directly into my eyes. I though about watching the movie, but it was ‘Most Valuable Primate,’ a stupid movie about a monkey that can play hockey. I got out the Air France headphones, plugged them in, turned to the American music Channel and fell asleep.
I woke up groggy and I thought I might need a breath mint. I was sore from sleeping up right. I glanced at my watch to learn that I had slept for. . . 20 minutes. Damn, this was going to be a long flight. The next two hours I continually took short ten minute naps, but nothing lasted over 20 minutes. It was only four hours into the flight and I was already sore and wanting something to do. The music channel had begun to repeat itself, so I decided to check out the in flight magazine. It was great magazine because it was a special edition one-Foods of the World. As I drooled over the sumptuous looking meals the program changed to a documentary about the natural beauties of the islands of Mauritius. I watched that for about 30 minutes, as it was quite interesting.
As that ended I decided to take another glance out the window. What I saw was one of the most amazing things I have ever seen while flying. It was no loner just clouds and water. It was clouds, water, clouds, water, clouds, water, PLANE! Flying just below us and off to the left was a KLM 767-300ER going to God knows where (ATL maybe ). It was close enough where I could actually see the windows, and that closeness surprised me. I wondered what they were doing on board that flight, what they were eating, what movie they were watching, how the people in steerage were enjoying their measly 31 inches of pitch. They couldn’t possibly be as bored as I was though. The second movie had started, but I didn’t pay to much attention. I don’t even know what it was.
The KLM airliner stayed with us for about an hour before disappearing behind as we were flying faster than it. Clouds and water became the scenery again until about seven hours into the flight, when we first saw Canada.
LAND!!!! YIPEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!! NO MORE DULL WATER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I was now able to enjoy the Canadian scenery from above. And from where we were we saw clouds, snow, trees, clouds, snow, trees, clouds, snow, trees. At least there was more color than just white and blue. We now had green. It was an improvement.
At about this time the cabin crew emerged from their cave beneath the floor, where they had retreated to just before we started the Atlantic crossing, to serve us our second meal. It was comprised of roast beef slices served with breads, mustards, and of course... cheeses. It was very good, especially since I turned mine into a mini roast beef sandwich. The dessert for this meal was even better than the first. It was an apricot tart with powdered sugar. YUM!
We were soon back over the United States, and on our descent we flew over a large lake with a ragged shore that I have since flown over many other times when descending into Atlanta from the north. It must have been somewhere over Tennessee or North Carolina. Anyone know what that lake may be by any chance?
We landed 45 minutes behind schedule at 2:50pm Atlanta time. That gave us one hour to catch our flight to MIA, which left at 3:50. As we got off the aircraft I noticed how horribly filthy it was after that long flight. I would hate to have to clean that. Customs took about 25 minutes and we were greeted with a nice 'welcome back' from the customs agent. I thought that was a nice touch. Baggage was already out when we got to the claim, and we proceeded to recheck our bags. We were certain we would miss our flight because it was already 3:30pm, but the re-check-in lady told us that it was delayed until 4:50 because of a late arrival from Salt Lake City.
We made our way to the gate and were there at about 4:00. The 767-300 still had not arrived, and it didn’t arrive until 4:45. The flight was delayed even longer. The people on that flight didn’t seem to care though. Most were probably Floridians returning home, because nearly everyone in the gate area watched and cheered on the Miami Dolphins game that was being shown. They would probably have preferred to watch the game rather than getting on the plane. There were also many people who had come from European destinations as well. I noted quite a few people who had been fellow passengers on the Air France flight I had just gotten off of. A KLM 763 took off, and I wondered if that was the one I saw earlier while in flight.
Delta Air Lines
Delta Flight 410
First Flight Flown With A Famous Person On Board
Boarding began, and at 5:30 everybody on the completely sold out flight was on board. I was seated in 15A. Newt Gingrich was on board as well. But we still could not leave just yet because they still had to check the weighting of the cargo. At 5:45 we pushed back and taxied out. But then we could still not leave because of some mechanical warning light that alerted the pilots to some problem in the cockpit. We pulled over and had a mechanic come to figure out what was wrong. We were finally given the OK to fly just after 6:00 and we taxied to the runway. But we still could not leave because for some extremely stupid reason we had to pull over again to let about 5 or 6 planes depart ahead of us so they could get to there destination on time. We were finally in the air at 6:20, 2.5 hours behind schedule.
Service was friendly, and most people didn’t seem to mind the delay. We got the same snack mix and I got my ginger ale. The flight path that evening took us down the east coast of Florida. At 7:45 we flew over Miami Beach and touched down on the same runway we had taken off from about a week earlier.
The whole baggage claim situation was horrible. There was one claim operating for Delta, and it was handling 2 high-capacity Atlanta flights, a CRJ Tallahassee flight, and some CVG flight as well. This made the claim area extremely crowded with nearly 500 people waiting to get their bags. Naturally the bags from our plane came out last at about 9:00pm. It was a very tedious ending to an otherwise great trip.
Great Job Delta and Air France! I must say that CDG is an extremely nice airport. Keep up the good work CDG, ATL, DAL, and AF.
The trip was done, and all that I had to look forward to was the four-hour drive home.
Thanks for putting up with the length.