It is unbelievable how airplane travel can take you all over the world in just one day. And we have decided we LOVE European airlines. Just as framework, we have been in Turkey the past 5 days and this was our return trip travel itinerary today:
4:00 AM - Kirk gets up to watch the UNC take the NCAA Basketball Championship. Way to go Tarheels! We are in an oceanfront hotel on the Turkish coast in Kusadasi.
6:30 AM - Ride retrieves us from Kusadasi and drives us 1 hour to Izmir airport.
9:00 AM - Flight from Izmir to Istanbul.
1:55 PM - Flight from Istanbul to Frankfurt, Germany.
6:05 PM - Flight from Frankfurt, Germany to Amsterdam, Netherlands.
8:00 PM - Drive from Amsterdam back home to Brussels.
10:00 PM - Nestled back in to our apartment. Transferred sleeping Connor from car seat to crib.
So we are back now exhausted but full from our trip to Turkey. I can't wait to share with you what we have seen and learned in upcoming blog posts. I still can't believe we did it. And that Connor did it. She was an angel the entire time, napping at all the right times and charming everyone around her.
But before the day passed, I wanted to record why we love European airlines so much. We rode Lufthansa and Turkish Airlines today. The crazy flight schedule was so we could get good flight deals - of course, you know us! But what luxury all day. Here are differences (my top 10!) that might make you nostalgic for the days gone by on American airplanes:
1) We were served tasty, hot meals during the flights. No skimping.
2) Wine and beer were free and flowing in economy class.
3) We both passed on the alcohol but when we asked for Coke they gave us the entire can!
4) We were able to board first since we had Connor with us. They don't do that special pre-boarding anymore in the USA! Plus we were even given an enormous durable plastic bag for our gate-checked stroller to protect it during the transfers. You know it was a big bag if our Bob fit in it!
5) All of our flights left and arrived efficiently and ON TIME. And our luggage made the 3 international connections behind the scenes, and was waiting for us when we arrived at the baggage claim.
6) On each leg the flight attendants showered Connor with small gifts. I don't mean like cheap Happy Meal toys. These are serious attention-grabbers. Puzzles and plastic airplanes with stickers and rolling wheels.
7) There was a FREE newspaper stand outside all flights with papers in several different languages to choose from. You know, just for your reading pleasure...
8) Nearly every gate lobby had a small children's area with play things. Alleluia! And family restrooms abound in airports. I even saw remote control ride-on carts for housekeeping so the cleaning attendants don't have to walk so far in the expansive airport halls.
9) Flights had real pillows with real pillowcases for sleeping.
10) The airplane seats were wide and leg room deep. They also automatically blocked a seat for Connor between us even though we didn't technically have a ticket for her. (We have 1 month and 4 days before she turns 2 and we have to start paying for her to fly with us! Trying to squeeze in as much as we can under the wire!)
All in all, when we aren't flying the 5 euro flights on Ryan Air (where expectations are understandably different) - I am so impressed by the perks on European airlines and their red carpet treatment. Somehow they make the corporate bottom line work without skimping a bit on the service and frills. We felt extremely cared for despite a hectic day of travel.
The only lesson learned is this: double and triple check there are more than enough diapers when traveling with a baby. Somehow in the rush of repacking at the crack of dawn we managed to only put one diaper in the diaper bag. So by the time we were in Istanbul Connor and Kirk's lap where she was sitting were both soaked. Oops! Luckily there was a "chemist" (pharmacist) in the airport and we were able to buy more. At top dollar of course, but it worked. You should have seen me trying to mime out "diapers" to the Turkish pharmacist to get him to bring out what we needed! It makes me crazy that I keep missing with this most important baby essential. We can handle security lines and passport controls with ease, but somehow packing enough diapers trips me up every time!!!
Connor LOVES airplanes now. And she should after this trip. And after all the attention and extras she gets on airlines like Lufthansa!This sunset escorted us home from Amsterdam as we drove through the Netherlands back into Belgium. It is good to be home!