Conference experiences 2011 : Getting to QI (Urbana-Champaign, IL, USA)

You’d think that travelling across the world is really just about getting from A to B. Or at least in theory. So why is it that someone like me who does the cross-Atlantic trip at least once every 18 months just can’t keep it simple?

Urbana-Champaign is located about 4 hours from Chicago and, while that sounds reasonable, the journey was quite the opposite. The plane was late taking off from Manchester, which was a crazy flight considering it was windy enough to rattle the plane. At 9am. Being late meant making my connection a bit challenging as I didn’t realise that I had to go through security, again, at Amsterdam. Good thing that plane was late too! Being one of those “double-decker” kind of planes takes time to prep.

Oh KLM, you do rock my world. Next to JAL you are seriously the coolest airline to fly with. Great staff that are actually nice! And good food (for plane food, I mean I had pine nuts in my couscous salad?!). But that wasn’t the kicker. To add to the joy of having over 25 movies too choose from to amuse you for 9 hours (for those of us who can’t sleep) you could learn another language.

Seriously. You could choose from no less than 10 different languages to learn. Ok so it’s really beginners basic provided by Berlitz but you could learn on the plane. I chose to brush up on my Tagalog. And you know you’re tired when, around the 7th hour, you find gap-fills highly amusing.

No, despite all that, it’s always my fellow passengers that let me down. I’m not sure what it is about airline travel that brings out the weirdos. I put it down to the altitude. And the lack of sleep. Usually it’s just one or two groups of people that suffer from one but this time it was everyone. Because of two unfortunate souls who seemed to have the worst case of obscene diarrhoea most of the passengers suffered like me, including the crazy woman in leather who let her toddler kick the seat in front of her whilst talking, loudly, to her bag and the poor wailing baby with bickering parents in matching haircuts.

9 hours, trapped in a plane, with nowhere to go.

It was only when I realised that could have easily been me sitting beside one of the two invalids that I got over my raging frustration and laughed. Literally out loud to myself. I don’t think I was alone in that respect!

Sadly when the plane arrived, I had another 2 1/2 wait until my 4 1/2 journey to Urbana on a bus whose windows rattled all…the…way. I try not to think about that part. Needless to say, by the time I arrived, I was very, VERY happy to go to bed.

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