720 words on Travel
Getting away wasn’t the most joyous experience. Those ICE trains aren’t bad per se. But if they’re full CeBIT attendees and you have to find some place to sit on the ground for the ride it just sucks. Frankfurt’s airport can be great when you arrive by rail: Their railway station looks like we actually live in the future they always told us about in the 20th century. And when you get out of it and your flight is with the right airline you can just check your luggage as soon as you come from the platform. Excellent.
And then teh suck starts. The main building remains one of the most crappy airports I know. Redesigning their signage might improve things a little. But generally the buildings just seem to have ‘grown’ in an unplanned way. There are no clean lines in the buildings which give you a clear sense of where you are and where you are heading. And there are a number of places where they have really low ceilings – giving everything a crammed feel.
Of course the whole ‘security’ stuff sucks as much as it does everywhere else. I think in our queue they wanted to inspect the luggage of at least every other person. Naturally they needed to check my computer and cameras by swiping some cardboard over it and then sticking the cardboard into a machine. Thinking about how much all that brouwhahah must cost in terms of staff, time and equipment and how little it probably helps, might just make me sick. Particularly when seeing how dumb many of the people working there are. And how unfriendly they can be when people not familiar with the ‘security’ circus express that it’s illogical that 50ml of toothpaste are safe while 150ml of shampoo aren’t.
I was happy that I didn’t fly to Tel Aviv because the particular security paranoia attached to Israel meant that the people going there had to suffer through yet another check between this one and boarding their plane.
This was my first opportunity to use the A340 and it seems a fine plane with at least one nice idea (downstairs toilets) which helps making the plane more spacious. The whole interior design seems to be made to make things look light and spacious. And they had plenty of nice features in there which seemed like clever ideas implemented in a mediocre way. For example a cup holder that can be unfolded separately from the table. Clever; but such a poor plastic construction that it was squeaky as hell. Having a hook towards the top of the seat in front of you that could serve as a coat hanger sounds clever as well; until you realise that it just looks like a metal button there and unless you’re the type to play with everything you probably won’t notice that it is held back by a spring and can be pulled out to hang your coat on. The fact that coat hanging is essentially incompatible with using the table renders this even more absurd.
Other less-than-brilliant things: The reading lamps which were installed about 20 cm too far to the back at our seats. So we could enjoy their nice fade out effect when being turned off but they only lit the lower half of whatever you wanted to read. The buttons in the armrest were less than brilliant as well. Being on top of the armrest, it was pretty easy to accidentally press them with your elbow – and we saw many of the service lights come on during the flight. And the symbols printed on the buttons had rubbed off so badly that both me and my neighbour couldn’t figure out that one of them needed to be pressed to get to the sound channels accompanying the video. Ah well. Obviously the films weren’t good either, but not as bad as the food. Even the cutlery is getting worse.
The crew did, however, make an effort to get us enough drinks. From a pre-dinner cocktail, to wine, to a post-dinner cognac. Good for a bit of sleep. It still struck me as absurd that they served beer in full bottles. Aren’t those considered weapons these days? And aren’t they quite heavy?
Ah well, we still made it. Even in time.
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