It’s wishful thinking. All month I’ve been thinking it’s February instead of January. Like all of you, I’m trying to rush this winter along. With some guilt I admit I did have an escape — 10 days on Maui. The less said about that the better, right?
There’s nothing worse than talking how great an island vacation is while others are enduring arctic blasts described in detail as never before. “Polar vortex” has become our forecasters’ new buzzword.
Winter has its drawbacks but so do vacations. Getting to Hawaii wasn’t easy. Our flight from Chicago to Honolulu was the longest we’ve ever taken, and initially felt like we were going backwards. The only way we could book a frequent flyer ticket was to set off from Chicago. From there the flight to Honolulu was 9 hours and 15 minutes. Then we had another 20-minute hop to get to Maui.
We thought we were prepared, having packed some walnuts and a few other snacks. “On a long flight like that American will serve a meal,” I said to Spark. Excited to be on our way, we landed in Chicago, had breakfast and waited at the gate for the rest of our two-hour layover. Just as the flight was about to board, the AA folks made an announcement that could have gotten them egged.
“There are over 200 people on this flight, and we only have 12 salads and 12 sandwiches. It’s over a nine-hour flight. We advise you to purchase some food to take onboard.”
Joining the throng, we hustled to the nearest quickie food spot to load up on the healthiest food we could find. The choices were pretty slim, so we settled for a couple of bananas and two cartons of yogurt with fruit. A few hours later, when we dragged the yogurt out of the backpack, it was runny and warm, not near as tasty as the mini-cheese plate we both ordered when the stewardess came through at the start of the flight.
“If you’re thinking of getting something, I’d do it now,” she said. “We never have food left after the first pass we make.” That was great advice. We didn’t see her again and envisioned the flight attendants sitting behind curtains in their little cubbyholes chowing down on first-class vittles.
Flying isn’t at all what it used to be — everyone knows that. With fondness I recall our first flight to Europe. At the time, I was working for Ozark Airlines, which was eaten up by TWA, and later was ingested by American, who recently merged with US Airways.
Back in 1970, Spark and I took a Pan American flight to Europe, and it cost less than $200 because Ozark had such great privileges with other carriers.
The Pan Am stewardesses looked like they’d just stepped out of a bandbox in their sky-blue uniforms and jaunty caps. They fit the setting perfectly, a new 747 with a spiral staircase. We ate and drank like royalty on that flight, even though we were in the coach section.
In all honesty, I have to tip my hat to American on our recent trip. When we boarded the flight from Chicago to Honolulu, Spark had restricted legroom because of a square box under the seat in front of him. We asked the stewardess if the bulkhead was open, “Yes, but no one likes to sit there because it’s too cold.”
“I can do you one better,” she said, leading us to the business section’s bulkhead seats, where we enjoyed lots of space. The extra room made eating warm yogurt easier to stomach.
On the way home from Maui, we thought we were brilliant loading up our carryon with apples and bananas left over from our hotel frig. The airport baggage handlers ended up with that mother lode. It seems the fruit you pickup in paradise, stays in paradise. Wish we could have — at least until February.