Stand-by…March 3, 2010
It seems we’ll be staying in the states a week longer than planned. As a former flight attendant, I have the privilege of flying for free for a certain number of years. A benefit I feel blessed to have as flying internationally with my ever-expanding family would be beyond our means. However, we fly stand by and if any of you have ever flown stand by you know what the entails. It just so happens that the flight on the day I planned to fly back is full. In fact, the flights to Paris for the entire week are full.
The continuation of flying privileges was offered to employees after September 11th to entice them to quit. In this way the company could cut costs. This buy out, as it was called, was proposed just after I married Raphael and shortly before I became pregnant with Olivia. I couldn’t imagine a better deal coming my way at a time when I was in that euphoric state of new love and wondering how I would handle leaving for days each week. And it’s been great. Not only do I fly for free but Raphael and the girls do as well.
In the early days it wasn’t difficult to get on flights. Alone, I looked at it as an adventure of sorts and I was willing to fly to any city in Europe and worry about getting to the south of France upon arrival. With each child it’s gotten progressively more difficult. Our standard route is to take the train from Valence in the early morning to Charles de Gaulle, catch the plane to the states later that morning arriving in Pittsburgh in the evening. In recent years Paris has become the most difficult European city to fly into. These days there are almost never any seats on the plane.
We’ve taken to creative traveling. Our trip over spanned two days and took us on a three train ride to Germany, with a change in Paris. After a short night in a hotel in Frankfurt, we caught the plane the following afternoon to the states. This was actually one of the easier trips and still less expensive, if more tiring, than buying full fare tickets. Last fall we drove half the night to Frankfurt, left the car for a week in a parking lot, and upon arriving in Philly, discovered there were no seats left on the flights to Pittsburgh so we were obligated to fly to NYC and catch a 10PM flight to Pittsburgh. All this traveling with carting three cranky kids and one cranky pregnant lady. Poor Raphael. I sometimes wonder if it’s worth it.
I am returning to France next week sans Raphael who flew back 10 days ago. The worst part of the trip back is the arrival. In Paris I still need to get the train to the south but that is easy. If I fly to another city it is a longer train ride, usually with one or more changes, or a flight to Lyon followed by a two hour car ride. I just don’t feel up to it so I’m waiting another week when the flights to Paris look more appealing. Olivia is missing school. All of them are, but her class is the most important. And I am missing Raphael and France. Spring is arriving there and well, here, there’s still snow.