My co-worker, Chris Conklin, picked us up and took us to the Waterloo airport (the code is ALO, for the next time you want to plan your vacation to Cedar Falls/Waterloo). We arrived about an hour and a half before our takeoff time, which is about 87 minute more than you need to navigate the Waterloo airport.
We noticed that Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) was also on our flight, but as there is no first class on the little prop planes they fly us up to Minneapolis in, he had to sit with us commoners.
In Minneapolis (MSP), we had only 40 minutes to make our connecting flight, but we made it just fine. Fortunately, they have a tram now that ran us most of the way, as I've had it take me 40 minutes to get between gates before there, when I was lucky enough to be there on escalator and moving walkway maintenance day.
Our next flight landed us in Detroit (DTW), where we had about an hour and a half to kll before departing for Paris (CDG). We decided to grab something to eat, as airline food is almost universally inedible. I saw the words "Little Caesar's" on the directory, and made a beeline for it, as they closed our store about 8 years ago, and I miss their pizza.
I don't know if the airport food service people in Detroit are unionized like they are in the Las Vegas airport, but they sure do suck at their jobs. The woman at Little Caesar's (where a handwritten sign informed us that they couldn't accept credit cards right now) gave us our pizza with only minimal contempt, but the guy behind us who wanted some crazy bread got his ass chewed, because that would take her 7 minutes to cook. Also, they had no napkins, so I had to go steal some from Burger King.
After finishing our PIzza, I decided to grab some frozen yogurt from the TCBY next to the Little Caesar's. The guy running this place informed me that he could ONLY accept credit cards, not cash, right now. You'd think they could work something out with the Little Caesar's people, being as they're in the stall next door, but I digress...
While this man was dressed as someone who perhaps manages the TCBY, he would have been fired from any TCBY I was ever put in charge of. It took me, no exagerration, repeating my order to him a grand total of SIX TIMES before he was able to make it. Here was my complicated order:
-One regular vanilla cake cone
-One regular white chocolate mousse waffle cone
This is not rocket science. It's not even advanced ice cream science. Maybe someone promoted him to TCBY management to keep him away from the customers, but they didn't promote him far enough.
We put the surly food service workers behind us, and boarded our plane for Paris.
Northwest recently replaced their aged DC-10s with A330s, and boy, they're nice. The coach seats are in a 2-4-2 arrangement across the width of the plane, and we had two seats on the right side. Each seat comes with its own interactive video display, where you can watch movies on demand (including some unedited ones), play video games, listen to music (even make a playlist), view the GPS data for the plane, or send SMS or e-mail messages for $2.50 each (not a bargain).
Our seat also had power. I brought my Dell laptop along, because there was a SNAFU with the order for my air adapter for my PowerBook. Since I had one for the Dell, I chose it to bring instead, though it turns out I should have brought the PowerBook, as the new A330s have plain 'ol alternating current. You don't need any special adapters, they have universal plugs for all countries too. You just need to be sitting in the first 30 rows of the plane to have power.
I tried to sleep on the flight, but wasn't very successful, as the person behind me had their headphones cranked up so loud it was bothering me, and I don't sleep well on my back, much less whatever position coach seating puts you in.
After our eight hour flight, we arrived in Paris.