We have been on 20 airplanes in the last thirty weeks. Most are budget carriers that don’t even include water, but today we got food, wine and movies. My seat seemed to have been added later since it was halfway in the aisle.I got more leg room, but people gave me confused looks as they squeezed by. It didn’t help that the guy across the aisle from me brought FIVE carry-on bags and parked two of the suitcases in front of me in the aisle for twenty minutes while he searched for overhead space to store everything. Once every suitcase was overhead, he started walking up and down the aisle opening every locker and shifting bags from one cabin to another to consolidate. After take-off, he seemed to forget where he had stowed his bags so he proceeded to trudge up and down the aisle, opening everything for another twenty minutes. He is about the width of the aisle, so he bumped into me and everyone else in his pathway dozens of times. He finally sat down, ordered three glasses of wine and passed out.
It seemed like overkill that we started boarding an hour before take-off, but in addition to the hyperactive packer, the Moscow orchestra and their instruments are onboard. The airline knows their clientele.
Our stopover in Moscow was comically awful. Our 747 lands and all 500 of us are corralled through two doors to have our passports checked by an agent standing at the door. There is no line or explanation, but everyone holds up their passport and pushes until they are through the door. I suppose the agent was only checking that we carried a passport. Through this door is one more door with a man at a desk next to it who is checking passports and stamping boarding passes. Again, no lines just pushing. The rooms are not funnel shaped so you have to be strategic about making your way to the desk and getting your document stamped. The desk was wide enough for eight people at a time to wave documents in his face and vie for priority. It took a full hour to get through this, and we were probably in the first third to get through. We then sprinted 23 gates to board our next plane.
Now that we are out of SE Asia, the planes no longer make our favorite announcement. From Indonesia to Thailand to Vietnam, the airlines emphatically warn their passengers NOT to steal the lifevests. There are signs up in the airport at the gate, at customs and in the bathrooms. They mention it twice on each flight along with specific criminal penalties. It does make us wonder were tons of people stealing the lifevests or just one very notable case?
Today we flew Tokyo to Moscow to Tel-Aviv. We arrived at 23:30 on Friday which means it is Shabbat and therefore no public transportation until sundown tomorrow. We are sleeping in the airport but it is noisy and I am jet lagged from 20 hours of travel and a seven hour time difference. Travel days like this are rough. Thankfully we only have a couple of long-hauls like this overall. Most of our flights are only a few hours.