Okay, so back in late April or early May, I contacted my travel agent and tried to book us on Lufthansa to Dallas because there would only be one layover and the Germans are usually extremely efficient and keep to schedules. Also, because I avoid New York like the friggin’ plague because I think it’s stupid that all international flights are IN to JFK and then we have to claim all our luggage and go through customs and all that noise just to find a cab (yeah, right!) who can haul all five of us and our 10 suitcases 5 carry-on bags and whatever crap we purchased at Duty-Free all the way over to LaGuardia in Queens and then have to check in again and wait for a flight (that isn’t free, by the way) to Dallas. NO THANKS. It’s hard enough to travel with kids internationally. I don’t want to have to do the whole intracontinental thing, too.
So my travel agent told me that she could book me on Lufthansa for 30, 800 EGP but that Emirates Air had a better price. So I rolled my eyes and asked how many layovers that one had. She said just one but it’s in
Dubai. I asked what the price was and she said, “20,000 EGP.”
Say WHAT?! “What’s the catch?” I asked.
“Well, the transit is in Dubai. So you would have to fly 5 hours from Cairo to Dubai and then you have a 3 hour layover and fly directly from Dubai to DFW. The flight time would be 15 hours from Dubai instead of only 9 hours from Frankfurt to Dallas.”
“Girl, we’ve GOT time. It’s money that we seem to always be short on. Book the Emirates flight.”
So that is how we got to fly over Iraq and Russia and the North Pole and Canada and Minneapolis and all the way over Oklahoma and land in Dallas. Yeah, really. I’ve flown over the North Pole.
I have flown my entire life….and NO, I’m not embellishing. My dad was military and we traveled back and forth from Europe my entire life. I flew a lot in the US to visit family and then started traveling overseas for my job. I am just as comfortable in the air as I am on a road trip. Maybe more so. I’ve never endorsed an
airline before. But I will right now.
EMIRATES AIR RULES!
From the time that we checked in at the desk in Cairo, we were whisked away on a bus by ourselves just as soon as I notified the attendant that we had a special needs child and explained that Autism can sometimes cause my daughter to become overwhelmed and freak out a little but that I can get her to calm down again provided the flight attendants do not try to restrain her. (That happened on the Lufthansa flight last time we traveled to the US and I was nearly at the point of knocking out the woman who was attempting to force Randa into her seat while yelling in her face to keep calm.) They boarded us in the back of the plane at the same time the first and business class passengers were boarding int he front.
This is a great spot as far as I’m concerned. We’re close to the back where the drink carts are stored. We’re close to the restrooms. AND most importantly, we’re located close to the jet engines where argumentative teenagers and their noise gets drowned out. YES. The flight attendants were SO very nice to us. Honestly, they were nice to everyone.
When we arrived in Dubai, the kids were a little hungry and Mohamed had asked me to buy cigarettes at the duty-free store. So, we bought the cigarettes and then wandered to a food court and I decided that it was just too damn expensive. But I did buy them each a coke and got myself a Snapple and we wandered back over to our gate and sat and snarfed down all the cookies and chips and snacks that their uncles had purchased for their backpacks before we left Egypt.
We still had another hour before we were supposed to leave which meant another half hour before boarding started and Randa started to have a meltdown. She was bored and tired and hadn’t had her internet fix in more than a day. A gate attendant called Ismail over and asked if we would be able to control her on the flight and Ismail said yes and tried to explain what autism is to him. Finally, he decided that the guy was kind of a rock and called me over to explain. I could barely understand his broken English so I spoke to him in Arabic and explained that my daughter is just extremely tired and bored and that once we were on the plane I could settle her down. He recognized my dialect as Egyptian. Turns out, HE was Egyptian.
So, what does one Egyptian do for another Egyptian? They “hook a sister up”and he called some Scottish dude who was in charge of security and told him to board us early. He didn’t want to but the Egyptian dude told him, “Special needs child” and the Scottish dude asked me what was up and I explained that Randa is Autistic and gets overwhelmed when she is overstimulated and can freak out a bit. He said, “My niece is autistic. I know how that goes.”
The Scottish dude said, “Follow me.” So we did. And he introduced us to Faris who was the head porter on our flight. Faris introduced us to Mario aka Mex (which apparently was short for Mexican) and they shook hands with Randa and were very polite and asked if she would like anything.
Randa said, “Chocolate.” And then she laughed. So they laughed.
Damn if they didn’t bring her a mini-Toblerone and a Mars bar just for her from first class. And they sent a color book and a fake Etch-A-Sketch thing. She was just stoked that they had Toy Story 3 on the in-flight movie and they’re all high-tech so you can even rewind over and over again like she enjoys doing on the touch screen that was on the back of the head rest in front of her seat.
The only “incident”so to speak, was about 9 hours into the flight when Randa started shouting, “Butt hurts! Back hurts! Go faster. FLY FASTER!” The whole time she was pretending to row (yeah like in a boat) as if air- rowing was going to get us there quicker. They were handing out drinks at the time and the flight attendant sort of giggled but then told Randa, “I will tell the pilot to fly faster, dear.”
Once we were over Oklahoma, we hit every air pocket that we DIDN’T hit flying all over the rest of the globe. All I could think of was TORNADOES. But thankfully, we weren’t in any tornadoes. But the air pockets DEFINITELY did a number on my stomach, as well as Randa’s. Because then she decided that she didn’t want him to fly faster any more. And she started to stomp on her imaginary air brakes and shouted, “Slow down. Fly slower.” This of course, delighted the two men sitting on the other side of her and they tried to hide their amusement but failed miserably.
Good thing she doesn’t give a shit what other people think.
Anyway, a few hours later we landed and even though it took us about 2 hours to get through immigration and customs, we did it fairly quickly and uneventfully. It was awesome. Boring and uneventful almost NEVER happens to us. So this was amazing to me and my family.
I cannot emphasize enough how awesome Emirates Air was on both legs of the trip and at all three airports and if you ever have a need to fly anywhere in the world that they service, TAKE THEM. It is an awesome experience.
Also….it was amazing to see my husband, my son, my mom and my sisters and their kids waiting for us at the airport. These are my favorite people in the world. (My brother, too, of course but he had to work that day and he lives in Austin.) And here’s a photo of Randa hugging her grandmother at the airport upon our arrival while her father looks on: