by K, written on 7 January 2013.
Our first trip overseas and I was a little more than apprehensive at this thought. We were on a direct flight from South Africa to London. However the anxiety had little to do with being afraid of heights or the possibility of having to say my goodbyes thousands of miles above the ground. Neither was the fact that I would have to spend ten straight hours in a space that would put a claustrophobic spinning into a coma, the cause of my uneasiness.
No---this was different.
Mine was a case of being confronted with boredom with a group of people I had never seen before and ten straight hours? How would I cope? Would I be able to keep my fidgety self-busy and entertained as well as comfortable in affordable economy class?
I was lucky enough to be travelling with my better half….my less anxious, more in control better half. However two hours after take-off ….would take him off too…into blissful slumber land. And so my woes would begin….
Or so I’d thought. However I was pleasantly surprised by my virgin overseas flight…
I had never been on an overseas flight before and I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t then have the foresight to “google” the services offered on flight. I am an avid TV watcher and my husband often remarks that I could watch rubbish as long as it was on a TV screen. And so it was pure joy when I came face to face with a 10 inch screen offering movies and TV series and games… I was in Heaven. However my joy was short lived. The TV component became problematic and I couldn’t hear a thing. I was then promptly given a portable DVD player which I think may have belonged to one of the crew, to continue my viewing. I was once again content with a lovely selection of movies. There’s something about a person that takes this extra bit of care of strangers they’d met just few hours ago that makes them stay in your memory for just that bit longer….
The crew on the flight were ever so helpful at every turn. They made you feel special in ways that probably seemed effortless but counted in every way. From the way they handed you the overnight packages of red socks and blankets to making sure that the passengers were comfortable even in slumber. During the night you would awake to see the hostesses walking around with jugs of water and orange juice to keep people hydrated- as you try to make yourself as comfortable as a non first class seat would allow!
The food was excellent. Generally people are wary of this with the way this issue is portrayed in movies. Airline food is awful- we all grow up thinking this. However when I recount my trip to Europe I often tell people that one of the better meals I had, was on the flight getting to Heathrow and back! We had notified the airline that were vegetarians- and they ensured that we had a delicious platter waiting for us at supper and breakfast. During supper time a bottle of bubbly was raffled---for the best joke by a passenger, so they had even thought of dinner time entertainment!
The food channels had painted a picture that I found quite misleading when we toured Western Europe over the next 21 days. Being a lover of vegetables meant that you would be served pasta in a lovely, fragrant tomato sauce- at almost any place in the whole of Italy! That’s the idea of a vegetarian meal in most of Europe actually and so the diversity I craved on my trip was sadly lacking. In fact this was the straw that broke the camel’s back- I just couldn’t take the food! I had to get back home to lovely South Africa where the diversity of our culture delivers manna!
It’s not always possible to enjoy a flight- whether its local or long distance. In fact its sometimes a harrowing experience. Lucky for me I have never really experienced any nasty episodes that I could include in a “worst ever flight” narration yet.
It’s naturally a thought provoking journey on many levels- perhaps because when you are up in the air, there’s very little you can do or control should something go wrong. Perhaps it’s the laws of physics being defied that puts the edge on travelling by plane. Whatever the reason… a flight should be all that ours was- ultra comfortable, entertaining, good food and good old fashioned love and passion for the job by those who took care of us. Since then I have travelled overseas on many other airlines, and many have come close to them….but none have beaten Virgin Atlantic.