(I add this note after returning to the States: Every positive thing I mentioned about flying internationally ONLY applies if you do not take a flight on an airline run by a company based in the United States. The service we received on our American Airlines flight from Tokyo – Dallas was AWFUL)
I don’t know how many of you frequently take domestic flights across the United States, but if you have in the past 10 years or so you probably noticed something about airlines attempts to keep costs, and therefore, prices low for the thrifty American consumer. They have essentially gotten rid of basic nourishment. If you are lucky, on a four hour flight – they may throw you a bag of peanuts.
As a thrifty consumer, I love low airfares. But you know what I hate? Hanger. Not a hanger that you put a shirt on, but my least favorite emotional state – hungry to the point of anger, hanger. Domestic flights within our lovely United States lead us to two options (assuming a connecting flight) while traveling cross country to avoid hanger.
The “oh crap, I have 20 min” option:
You have landed, your stomach growls, the quick change of planes didn’t seem like an issue until you realize you need food. Yet you are in row 23, the dude in row 4 is taking a year to get his oversized carry-on out of the overhead compartment, and you need to be boarding another plane in 20 min.
The solution: Airport fast food – twice the price, half as good. Survey the lines of whatever spattering of quick grab and go options the airport offers, chose based on length of the line not quality of the food, grab your food, shove it in your mouth as you run to your gate. Just to realize they are still only on priority boarding right as the heartburn hits.
The “4 hours to kill and nothing to do” option:
You meander around the airport checking out every single food option available to you before deciding to splurge on a nice sit down place with a full bar. You finally get seated and order up a $9 craft beer before perusing the menu and deciding to go healthy with a $15 salad. It takes them 30 minutes to get it to you, but those croutons were extra crunchy.
This is called flying domestically. My dearest John is accustom to such flights, which is why he had a valid suggestion when he said, “we should eat” in the Chicago O’Hare airport. He is also accustom to my hanger issues and knows better than to let me go 4 hours without food.
My retort – I’m not hungry and they will feed us on the plane. It was only 10:30am, not quite lunch time. Then again, I had been up at 5am and had only eaten a breakfast sandwich at starbucks at 6:30am. Flight time at noon – we should probably eat.
We did have a delightful (yet overpriced) meal in the international concourse at a little mediterranean place. My $5.99 hummus was more of a snack, while John enjoyed a $10 chicken pita.
Our Chicago – Seoul leg is on Asiana Airlines, a truly delightful airline out of South Korea. (No sarcasm – I’m impressed). Within 30 min of take off we were presented with headsets, for our personal TV screens, and slippers – genius idea – you don’t have to put your shoes on mid flight to use the restroom. Oh, this makes me happy! BTW seat covers, toothbrushes and toothpaste in the lavatory – all great ideas for airlines!
A bag of surprisingly good snack mix came just after my slippers.
Next came our menus – brief descriptions of the choices provided for each of the meals as well as beverage options (all inclusive of course – this is international, baby!) The drink cart arrived shortly, where John indulged in a Korean lager, and I ordered myself a gin and ginger-ale. (Is that a thing? I don’t know, but they didn’t have tonic and it tasted good.)
Before I could get halfway through my drink, dinner was served. John decided he was ready for Asia and ordered the Korean option – bibimbap, steamed rice, veggies, minced beef, soup, kimchi, fruit for dessert and a surprise side dish of itty bitty dried fish (eyeballs always included). Lucky John!
I went western, and ordered the steak, potatoes and veggies. It came with a dinner roll, orzo salad and cheesecake for dessert. (Cheesecake is better than fisheyes in my book).
As I sat eating with a metal knife and fork, out of reusable dishes, I remembered why I always feel as if I’m being fattened up on international flights. Have a seat, don’t move for 14 hours, and we will continuously feed you.
If you are thinking airline food is gross and how could I eat it, you need to come fly with me. Cause it’s pretty darn good.
Coffee, tea, then the lights go off and they pretend it is nighttime (when it is 3pm to me) and expect you to sleep. I don’t, therefore, I get to partake in the occasional water, orange juice, another bag of snack mix, and oh… a little ham and cheese sandwich on a roll!
For the second full meal of the flight, John and I both went for the chicken in mustard sauce with mashed potatoes and veggies. Neither of us were excited about the crab salad, but the fruit was good. However, considering the meal came at 1:30am Nashville time, it felt odd to be eating. My body really just wanted some sleep.
But the lights were on, it was daytime in Asia – and we had another layover and flight to catch!