I’ve just boarded Thomas Cook Flight #2753 from Orlando to Manchester, UK for a 2-week adventure to conduct ancestry research for a book I’m writing (see Uncertainty) that chronicles my mother’s escape from Essen, Germany following Kristallnacht.
Non-stop flight reservations to Manchester were snapped up from Thomas Cook airline (first I’d heard of them) in February for an unbelievably low, inclusive fare of $129…or so I thought.
Little did I realize that my reservation was TraveLite. I discovered during check-in that the airline was assessing me $120 to check my luggage unless it weighed under 6kg. The suitcase empty probably weighed 1 kg.
After composing myself, I gripped the carry handle tightly and I braced myself against the counter as I listened to a potential work-around by the attendant:
“Why not purchase an upgrade from economy to premium class for $125, which also entitles you to one checked bag…and for the extra five bucks, you can enjoy unlimited alcoholic beverages and snacks, 2 premium meals, a wider seat with extra leg room, and priority boarding and priority luggage retrieval for the extra 5 bucks,” she proposed.
My original seat assignment was 42G, the penultimate row next to the toilets.
“Here’s my credit card,” I quickly offered.
“You will now be in 4D,” she announced.
“A no-brainer,” I surmised.
Somehow, I talked myself into believing that paying double was a great deal; yet I was determined to get my money’s worth. After boarding the plane, I delighted in plying through the travel amenities piled high on seat 4D. In addition to an oversized foam pillow–which added an inch of compressed padding to the existing form-fitted seat–there was also a human-sized microfiber blanket in a sanitary wrap, and a zippered vanity bag with all sorts of goodies:
- a blindfold
- long socks
- ear plugs
- ear buds
- a single-use toothbrush and vial of vile toothpaste
- and hand sanitizer
…none of which I used.
A choice of complimentary champagne or orange juice was served in tiny plastic stemware before take-off (but not mimosas, unless one asked for one of each), and premium dinner arrived 45 minutes into the flight…
…consisting of tired chicken breast glazed with a gooey berry syrup beside a peppery mash and a sprig of tawdry broccoli. MEH! Not to be confused with Cathy Pacific or Singapore Air cuisine.
Four tiny bottles of Smirnoff vodka made The Man from U.N.C.L.E. watchable on my video screen, and should have sufficiently prepared me for a nap, but the millenial seated in front of me chose to repose in full recliner- mode, which felt more restrictive than my knee-high compression socks.
The plane landed in Manchester ahead of scheduled arrival time, despite a 40-minute delay. Baggage claim was quick as advertised, and NOBODY was waiting in line for an immigration stamp.
Alamo outfitted me with a Renault Kadjar at the off-campus car rental building.
which required a small adjustment in dexterity and right-side brain coordination.
Left-side shifting on a right-side drive was initially challenging, but negotiating a busy urban roundabout was downright harrowing.
Taking a 1-hour detour to Liverpool’s dockyards…
and neighboring North Park…
before driving 4 overcast hours to Edinburgh proved to be beneficial in normalizing the weird sensation of driving on the wrong/right side of the road.
BTW, this post marks the 2-year bloggiversary for me.
There’s plenty of travel ahead for the year, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the future.
Let the adventure continue!