The first flight was from DFW to Madrid. American Airlines. I walked onto the plane and was first struck by the layout of the 767....it seemed smaller! 2 seats, 3 seats, 2 seats. Cramped seats at that. I did not notice it at first, but then it was pointed out - no inseat TV screens. Yes, I admit it - I am spoiled when it comes to international flights these days. And heck the last time I flew international, it was in business class. Plus the controls were very old turn wheels that were part of the seat arm. Yes, we were scoffing at it! But honestly, as long as the plane flies safely that is all that matters. We departed late. I looked into the American Way magazine to find out what films would be shown and as I told the boy next to me, the man infront of me told me I was wrong and that I needed to look at the ones for Spain. (well duh!) so I showed him that I did look at the ones for Spain, but it turned out that my magazine was the one from Feb 2011. Infact almost everyone had Feb 2011. (Heck it was only March 12th!) Finally we found someone with the March version and we saw the film titles: Morning Glory and The Last Airbender. Well that led to a section wide discussion between strangers on a plane about how bad the film was. I love how travel quickly bonds strangers in the weirdest places. I saw the first half or so of Morning Glory. It was good, but then I ended up talking with Laura Z. one of the Asst. Delegation Leaders on the trip. The second film came on and Laura and I simply made fun of it for a bit. Laura fell asleep in the middle of our conversation (guess it wasn't that good eh?!?) At one point during the flight, we hit an unexpected bump of turbulence - it was strong enough to wake most of the sleeping folks. I reacted by throwing my pillow into the aisle. Laura told me: don't worry, it is only a hiccup. She claims she does not remember this as she went right back to sleep. I thought it was reassuringly funny. Towards the end of the flight I went back to the galley to chat with a friendly flight attendant. Mario was his name I believe. He wore a green St. Patty's tie and had been friendly the whole flight. He told me he was going to teach me how to serve the breakfast. His instructions were:
a. Throw the croissant on the tray. Put tray in front of passenger.
b. Smile a genuine smile (no fake smiles allowed!)
c. Ignore the flight attendant behind you.
I told him I'd serve breakfast if he'd teach my classes next week....he didn't bite on that one.
Landing in Madrid a bit late, we knew time was tight til our flight to Milan. So we followed signs to "Passport control no visa". Well our interpretation was that this was for people who had no visas (as in needed none) turned out it was for people who needed visas and had none! Oye! Long story short we were in slow lines but then we rushed. The airport in Madrid is HUGE! But we made it to our flight about 5 mins before boarding began.
Flight to Milan...Iberia 3636. Again I think the plane was older than I. Oh and it showed! After the comfort of the AA flight it was quite uncomfortable. Iberia has changed from a full service airline (I flew them in 2005 from Madrid to London and was served a small meal on that less than an hour flight) to a "if you want a glass of water it will cost you an arm and leg" airline. But we were all too tired to care.
Air travel is less and less of a joy each day.
At the end of the day (actually days) we had 2 flights and a long bus ride but we were warmly welcomed in Reggio Emilia and in the end that was what mattered!