(This post follows ‘The great American dream’ posted on 20 May 2017)
The day of departure finally arrived. We were to know the status of our ticket after reaching the airport. We dropped KitCat at our family friend’s house and headed to Abu Dhabi International Airport. Our flight was scheduled at 3.20 am (GMT + 4). Around 2.30 am or so, we were confirmed to fly.
We rushed through the departure area, made our way through the immigration and customs. The departure gates for the flights to the US are almost at the other end of the airport. We crossed many gates before we finally reached the respective gates. Before the departure gates, was the US preclearance facility. All processes relating to immigration and customs were completed at that facility before we left the UAE. The system was implemented to save time at the US airports as it would facilitate quick exit.
After the preclearance, we headed to board the aircraft. Vinod had booked business class on Airbus A380. It was our first journey on an A380. We had explored one Airbus A380 during Dubai Air Show 2015 and had wanted to fly on one since then. We were thrilled to walk the bridge dedicated to passengers of The Residence, First Class and Business Class. I felt privileged. We had travelled on business class before but not on an A380. That was just the start of our amazing aerial journey.
Once aboard, we settled in our comfortable seats that turn fully into flat beds. We were welcomed with a cooling drink and a trendy amenity kit. We changed into the complementary pajama suits and started browsing through the menu card. We were drooling over the exotic spread and making detailed plans about the sequence in which we would have the dishes. We wanted to make sure that we have at least one serving of all the fare before we reach the US.
Amidst all this excitement, we didn’t realise that the flight took off almost two hours after its scheduled departure. We didn’t feel any discomfort solely because we were lying down in our flat beds and enjoying the dim and cosy ambience. Throughout the flight, we spent time eating, sleeping and watching movies. Although we tried to match our sleep time with that of the US, we couldn’t do that mainly because we were awake most of the earlier night and the soothing ambience in the plane couldn’t have helped better.
When Vinod and I couldn’t sleep any more, we headed to the mid-air bar. It is my policy to not have hard drinks on flights because they make me uncomfortable. The FnB Manager was happy to whip up a fruit cocktail. Vinod had champagne. We enjoyed drinking in a relaxed atmosphere. We also opened our Lonely Planet to start building an itinerary.
Meanwhile, a Pakistani family joined us at the bar. Apparently, they visit the US regularly. We got some more tips from them. After that, we went back to our seats and continued eating, sleeping and watching movies. Our flight had taken off from the UAE on 26 November at about 5 am (GMT +4). We landed in the US on 26 November at around 9 am (GMT -4).
To be continued…