Wednesday, October 7, 2009


The best thing about an early morning flight is getting up at the crack of dawn and rushing to the airport, and for someone a bit anxious like me, that means getting to the airport at 4 a.m. for a 6 a.m. flight. Fortunately, my Air France flight was scheduled to take off at 3:30 and the command on the e-ticket was to check in no later than 2:30. So I planned to get to the airport by 1:30, and be anxiety free.

Leila and I awoke at 6:30 and that is the worst thing about an afternoon departure. How do you fill those hours between arising and departing? Packing had started several days earlier and finished up the night before, as I repeatedly packed and unpacked, shifting items from the large rolling duffel destined for the belly of the plane to the carryon, all in order to get the weight of the duffle down to 50.6 pounds. If I were over that limit, so I believed from reading the advice on the Air France web page, I would be surcharged $50. That I could have handled, but for the second hop, via Brussels Air from Brussels to Kigali, the penalty would have been $200.

Unsuccessful in getting the weight down to 50.6 pounds, I went once again to the Air France web site and reread the baggage rules. I then discovered that I was allowed one carryon plus another small bag, such as a computer bag. Voila! The solution. I transferred the my large Dell laptop, and the still boxed mini laptop I was taking to Richard Malengule, a Congolese human rights attorney, and about 50 high energy bars , along with writing tablets, power cords, earphones, and my reading material, Le Petit Prince and Les Adventures du Nicolas. (Kids' books yes, but Petit Prince has gems for readers of all ages, and Petit Nicolas is a great assist, with explanations of grammar and vocabulary in the margins.

So after once again strapping the rolling duffel on my back and stepping upon the bathroom scales, I finally achieved the goal of 248 pounds, allocated between me and the duffel. I learned from the Air France ticket agent that all that effort was unnecessary. She explained if I had only one bag to check (2 are allowed) I would be allowed somewhere around 70 pounds.

The flight was uneventful. Fortunately I had snared an exit row seat, and had no seat in front of me, thus allowing a lot of stretching out, and with my inflatable butt cushion and neck collar, I actually was able to get a few hours sleep. With an AA (ambien assist).
Upon departure, I was able within a few minutes’ walk to the TGV station (Train Grand Vitesse, loosely translated, Really Fast Train) and was in Brussels in an hour and a half. Chatted about half the way with a Belgian man who makes several trips each year with a couple hundred pounds of used, but very serviceable clothes for little children. It is all on his own dime, but he is answering the question, “but Lord, when did we clothe thee?

I believe that meeting him was a good omen for my trip.

1 comment:

  1. Oh the joys of international travel. Glad you met a man who served as a good omen. The first of many we hope.