April 28, 2011: Spring Scotland Trip
In this new world of conglomerate partnership airlines we learn something new each time we travel. Our first lesson this trip was that we had to be more careful about which partner we book with. We made reservations months ago with KLM for our flight from PDX to AMS (Amsterdam) to EDI (Edinburgh) and we selected our seats, 11A and B. I checked out reservations several weeks before the trip and then again a week out. Everything was fine. The day before our flight I went to KLM to get our boarding passes and was routed to Delta’s check-in site. There I found our seats had been changed to 34 E and F, in the middle in the back. Furious, I rang up Delta ticketing and discovered that when the flight booking was transferred to Delta the seat assignment doesn’t automatically transfer. It took an hour and half on the phone and the assistance of a very nice agent and supervisor to get seats at 12 F and G (still not the side seats we wanted) as the best we could do. It pays to find out first who will do the ticketing.
The rest of the trip went rather smoothly. The seats, though cramped, weren’t too uncomfortable and the Delta flight crew was friendly and efficient, although the crew in the other isle was more attentive--is that a case of “the grass is always greener?” The dinner was actually a little better than we expected with chicken that tasted like chicken, a crisp salad, and the cheese and crackers good as always. The breakfast snack left something to be desired: flavor. A steamed English muffin and plastic egg with no seasoning or sauce was unappealing to say the least.
To rate the flight we would give the following grades (forever the teacher):
Ticketing Followup B
PDX Check-in A
Flight Comfort B
On Time A
Security B (no snarly TSA agents)
UK Customs A (couldn’t be friendlier)
The overall grade for the trip over is an Excellent. Flying is not the delightful experience it once was, where you’d dress in your Sunday best. It now is just what you have to do to get where you want to go, but on this trip it wasn’t too much of a hassle and it certainly wasn’t uncomfortable.
What is uncomfortable, though, is the price we are going to have pay for petrol in the UK. Oregon’s gas prices are near the $4 mark. When I picked up my Vauxhall Astra 1.8 rental from Arnold Clark (the UK’s top car dealer and a great place to rent from) I saw that the current petrol prices here are between $9.50 and $10.00 a gallon (figuring the exchange rate)! Those prices will certainly have me thinking about my driving.
The photo I have included is of the Ferntower Stone Circle on the Crieff Golf Course. A nice flight, a lovely day in the 60s, and time on the golf course means this trip is off to a great start.
By the way, I did say I would tell about trying to kill our Scotland family with KFC. The story is that Jacky (our B&B host, friend and a le Cordon Bleu trained chef) had been begging us for years to bring American KFC (much nicer than UK’s) over with us. Last fall we relented. We brought a vacuum packed bunch of wings and thighs to Jacky. We thought it would make everybody ill and so wouldn’t try it ourselves, but Jacky threw it in the oven for 10 minutes and the family feasted on America’s 11 Secret Herbs and Spices. No one got even slightly queasy. This year we were expected to repeat the Bringing of the KFC. As good friends we dutifully bought a half dozen wings and four thighs the day before we left, vacuum packed them, and put them in the fridge, where we promptly forgot about them. Anne remembered the chicken as we were boarding the plane in Portland. We’ve been told we have to bring a double batch when we return to Scotland in the fall.