Right now, I’m sitting in the hallway outside Gate 5 of Terminal 3 of Heathrow, leeching wireless from Singapore Airlines’ VIP lounge. This is the first time I’ve ever been to Europe. It’s not very glamorous yet -____- (also, hi America–the Heat won last night? -_______-)
I must say, I’m rather impressed with Virgin Atlantic. Strange figure-eight style gamepad thingiemajig to control the EXTREMELY advanced in-flight entertainment system. Seriously, this thing was absolutely amazing. You can play Bejeweled, watch dozens of movies and tv shows, message other passengers using an intra-plane IM system, or just stare at a real-time map of the flight path. I ended up watching Chronicle (well, this movie got real dark real fast), Tower Heist (yay diversity and Ben Stiller being Good Guy General Manager), and most of In Time (loljustintimberlake).
I sat in an exit row with infinite legroom, just an aisle across from this adorable little girl.
Her name is Lydia. Her parents said that this was her *SEVENTEENTH* flight total, spread out over eight different trips (the dad wore Toms and had shiny blue Ray Bans, while the mother sported a swanky looking Victoria Beckham-ish bob. I guess they were quite well off). Lydia, for her part, quite enjoyed the flight, never crying *once* during the seven hour journey. Instead, she was quite content to munch of Cheerios and slurp up tasty-looking applesauce for the first hour or so (I was pretty jelly, not gonna lie), then to sleep soundly in her super baller bassinet for the remainder of the flight.
Seriously, look at the thing. It’s basically a THRONE. The flight attendants (who all had awesome accents (“oh my goodness, I was so dee-hi-DRAY-tid,” one of them said, in bemusing contrast to our American “dee-HI-dray-tid”) whipped the thing out from a compartment, clicked the solid metal frame together, and mounted it on hooks on the wall. I ain’t never seen this before on jetBlue or United, no sir.
P.S. You can’t tell from either of these pictures, since she’s wearing blinders in this picture and blinking in the other, but she had big, blue-as-Luke Hill’s eyes.
Meanwhile, in the seat next to mine, sat Rachel, a twenty year old university student from Manchester. She seemed a bit for the first hour of the flight, asking the flight attendants for painkillers and not speaking much (“this is lit’rily my second time evah floiying”). She was passed out most of the flight while I watched movie after movie, but once we began our descent, she started talking about her time in Boston.
She had actually been working at a summer camp for disabled persons in Bedford (“lolwut I’m from Lexington” I said), but had to withdraw from the job due to health reasons. Unfortunately, she got an ear infection as soon as she arrived in the U.S., and not being from the U.K. where the NHS covers everything, she lacked insurance. The camp directors took her to a clinic in Bedford, where she was aghast to find out she needed to pay $90 for antibiotics, plus $40 in other fees. “Back home, oi would’ve paid loike seven pounds for the same drugs,” she sighed. The flight attendant seated across from us nodded in agreement.
“But moui goodness, the clinic was amayyy-zing!” Rachel suddenly exclaimed. “In the U.K., I would have gone in, waited five hours in agonizing pain, then finally seen a doctor while paying next to nothing. Here, I literally just walked in, paid some money, and bam! “Right this way please!”” And the clinic was twice the size of the hospitals back home too! If hospitals in Manchester were like that, we’d be all set!”
We continued to chat as our airplane landed, taxied, and opened up for disembarking (“come on Lydia, we’re here! Welcome to London!” *Lydia coos happily*). As a Health, Science, Society, & Policy major, I was all too happy to explain the pros and cons of Obamacare and the differences between the U.S.’s employer-based private system and the National Health Service. Lydia went off to vacation with her parents in London, and Rachel wished me well as she left to enjoy her *FOUR MONTH* summer holiday in Manchester.
And me–after a tremendously hectic 24 hours of good-byes, feverish packing, and oh-my-goodness-these-next-7-weeks-are-going-to-be-the-the-longest-I’ve-ever-been-away-from-home–I was none-too-subtly reminded through my meeting Rachel of why I’m flying halfway around the world: health!