May 27, 2014
I couldn’t do my recap posts without starting with flying to and from Europe. I fly pretty often, however my flights are never more than 3 hours, and never out of the country! Before this trip I had only ever gone to the Bahamas and the British Virgin Islands, both trips during High School. I was definitely a little apprehensive about an 8 hour flight over the Atlantic to Paris.
Since I bought my flight with Delta Skymiles I had to fly only Delta flights to and from Europe. Here was my schedule:
Since my first overseas flight arrived in Paris in the morning, my hope was to sleep for the whole time so I’d be up and ready to go.
Pretty sure I didn’t sleep a wink – it was all just too exciting!
What was exciting? Well, the plane was really large, with two different aisles and four seats in the middle and two seats on either window side. There was so much people watching, I absolutely loved it. The flight attendants brought us warm towels before meals, head phones, earplugs and eye masks, and blankets and pillows.
We received two meals during each flight. From Detroit to Paris we got dinner and breakfast. Delta gives you the option to request certain meals before you flight based on dietary restrictions. I’d chosen gluten free meals and I was surprised how “good” they were. Haha not restaurant quality but better than I’d anticipated. I do have to note, however, that I felt like the food coming out of Madrid was a little better than the food coming out of the US. For example we got that "spread" stuff that isn't real butter in the US, but we got real butter coming out of Spain.
On both flights I received a chicken/veggie/rice dish, fruit, a side salad and some sort of gluten free cracker. For breakfast they gave me an Udi’s muffin, yogurt and fruit. From Madrid to New York we got lunch, an afternoon snack, a bottle of water and an ice cream! Oh, and wine. Free wine.
The best part of flying internationally with Delta? THE MOVIES! Seriously, I was SO excited for my flight back home because my goal was to watch four movies. Mission accomplished. They had tons of brand new movies, all for free! Between my two flights I watched Delivery Man, Way Way Back, Dallas Buyers Club (LOVED), Gravity, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and American Hustle.
You could also watch your plane as it flew over the Atlantic:
Other than the long flights, I was also a little nervous about going through customs. When I arrived in Paris I pretty much had to do nothing. I had packed in a carry-on size bag, however I decided to check it so I wouldn’t have to deal with it during my layovers:
In Paris I picked up my bag at baggage claim, walked through the customs area where they stamped my passport and was released into the wild. The end.
New York, however, was a whole other story.
But I’m skipping ahead – let’s start with Madrid. I was really nervous about getting to the airport early enough since I was in a new city and didn’t speak the language. Madrid has an airport express bus which only has three stops in the city and then heads straight to the airport. One of those stops was a 10 minute walk from my hostel, so I walked over there and got right on the bus. Easy peasy! However, I think my legs are a bit long for their public transit system…
Because I got to the airport so early (3.5 hours…) security was a breeze and everything moved quickly. Thankfully there was a Starbucks for me to pass the time in until my flight!
When I got to New York we had to wait in several lines to go through customs. We filled out some information on a computer screen which printed out a “pass” with our photo on it. From there I was able to go up to a customs agent, get my passport stamped, and then go pick up my bag from baggage claim (which really confused me because I thought my bag was checked through to Chicago). Then I had to go to a totally different terminal, which involved getting on a tram, getting off outside and walking through a parking lot until I entered a new terminal where I had to re-check my bag and go through security again. Good thing I had a long layover!
By this point I was stressed out (my poor friends who I was texting…) and not in the best mood. Thankfully I found a coffee shop that sold Coffee-cocktails:
I ordered a Russian night which looked like an ice coffee and was totally delicious. Why is it more fun to drink in secret? I don’t know, but it lifted my mood.
Thankfully my wonderful big brother was able to pick me up from the airport in Chicago so I could get home and pass out… The end!
All in all, I really enjoyed my international flights and would do it again in a heartbeat. I would not, however, fly through JFK if I can help it…