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12:47am on Thursday, 29th September, 2005:



I chose Delta as my airline this trip because it was the cheapest that went between London, Indianapolis and New York (all via Atlanta, where I'm typing this).

Yes. Well they've gone bankrupt since I made the booking.

I can see why it's the cheapest. It's like airlines were 20 years ago: no personal screens for movies, just a shared one you all have to watch, and if you want an alcoholic drink you have to pay for it (not that I did, but it's the principle, dammit!).

The flight attendants were all over 50, and some must have been over 60 — they all wore glasses. This meant the service was professional but from another era. One of them accidentally dropped a fork on my jacket, leaving a mark, and said she'd "go get a club soda for that". Uh? What's that about? Do club sodas contain cleaning agents or something?

Another example was the food. They walked through, asking if you wanted chicken or pasta. I don't like chicken, so I asked for the pasta. They gave me the chicken anyway — we all got chicken, they didn't have any pasta. They were asking because the menu they gave out had cheese pasta on it, but they didn't have any available for coach class passengers. Shades of "smoking or non-smoking?" there...

I think the age thing is because the younger staff fled when they realised that they might not get their pension if Delta went into Chapter 11. Those closer to retirement age stayed on, because they wouldn't have time to build up a new pension elsewhere anyway.

The movie was Kicking and Screaming. It had been running for 20 minutes before the flight attendants realised it wasn't showing on the screens. They had to restart from scratch. Only one the channels to my headset was working, so I had a hard time hearing it, but not as hard a time as the people in seats A and B to my left, who for 20 rows or so couldn't hear anything. The flight attendants had to reboot the system, which entailed a 10-minute delay to the movie. It didn't help the 20 affected rows, but it got me my second channel so I wasn't about to complain. The affected pasengers were given free alcohol for the remainder of the journey, just like they'd have got anyway on a proper airline.

Oh, and Kicking and Screaming changed into Madagascar for 5 minutes half-way through. Then it turned back. Then a bit later they blasted a series of buzzes into all audio channels (I was listening to a "radio" channel by then) which caused everyone to remove their headsets as quickly as possible and harangue the flight attendants over their brush with deafness.

The radio channel I was listening to came in two parts. Part 1 was Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto number 1. Part 2 was a more varied programme, except they only ever played part 1. I listened to that concerto 3 times. Thank goodness I'd packed some playing cards in my hand luggage or I'd have been stir crazy.

We were all given a complimentary copy of USA Today, or, strictly speaking, USA Yesterday as it was out of date. The crossword had some weird clues only an American could answer (I managed to get "vapor" as the answer to "humidifier output", though, which was gratifying). Then I did the easy-peasy sudoku that it took the woman in seat A 3 hours to complete.

Just saw in a bookshop here a guide to sudoku by "internationally bestselling sudoku expert" Carol Vorderman. It must have been less expensive to print that on the cover than to reprint the cover entirely, given that no-one here knows who she is as they don't get Countdown.

6% battery remaining. Hmm, I'd better finish up before my laptop goes into hibernation on me...

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Copyright © 2005 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).