Before June 2008, I had only been on a plane once, when I had vomited. Although as my dad pointed out to me, when I was 2 I pretty much vomited everywhere. Never the less, I was nervous, and my mother's fear of flying didn't help. But when you know that your friend will be waiting patiently for you in JFK Airport, you can't really back out. I'll admit now, I was terrified at Manchester Airport, mainly because once I went through to the waiting lounges, my Dad couldn't be with me - I was on my own, without having done this before. Gulp. I coped fine, but the trip over there was a complete nightmare. Firstly, the steps that go up to the plane weren't in the right place, and the pilot wasn't happy with the gap that remained. So, we had to wait for them to sort the steps out before we could get on the plane. Then, there was a leak in the kitchen area of the plane, so we had to wait for them to sort that out. THEN, the computers went down in London, so we couldn't get clearance to take off. So, about 90 mins later than scheduled, we had lift off. Funnily enough, all that delaying helped my nerves considerably - my attitude turned from "Christ, I'm a bit nervous about this" to "Fucking hell, let's just go, for Christ's sake". It was one of those things where at the time, you just take it in your stride and get on with it, but when I look back on it now, I think "Jeez, how did you cope with all of that?"
I know this sounds stupid, coming a few days after a plane crashing into the Atlantic, but I loved the flight, and there was no need to worry. The complimentary snacks and drinks, the choice of in-fight entertainment, the quality of the air stewardesses....oh yes, British Airways catered me very well. The food wasn't great, but that's understandable. The best bit, and if you are a nerd like me, I urge you to go on a BA flight just for this - is the "flight stats" you can get onboard, which I must have spent 80% of the flight itself looking at. A map, showing you how far along you are, the temperature outside, the speed you're going at, what the altitude is...oh man, fantastic.
We landed safe and sound, and after spending almost 10 hours on a plane, I was relieved to get off. That was until I reached the customs bit at JFK Airport. Scary, genuinely scary. A headmistress type shouts at you, and you feel that if you don't instantly obey her, about 6 security guards will whip out scary guns and blow you into New Hampshire. And then I tried cracking a joke to the guy who was doing my fingerprints - which was met with a silence, a glare and contempt. Welcome to New York! After I had staggered to get my cases, moving my way past yet more security guards with guns, I rounded the corner - and there was my friend.
Coming up in Part 2 - NYC, baby.