Taking some artistic license and leaving the run of the mill stuff on the cutting room floor, I am going to zip straight to the drinking.
Now obviously I didn't wake up on the plane, but we can take it for granted that any activity from the moment I got up to the moment I boarded the aircraft, wasn't that interesting and didn't feature any booze! I did buy a copy of Time magazine at the Airport, which is something of a pre flight safety superstition that I have. Yes, I do realise that it has no bearing on the safety of the flight but its a ritual done when sober and for some reason it makes me feel intelligent.
Shortly after 10am I boarded my Aer Lingus flight which was the direct service from Dublin to New York JFK. This big green bird was gonna take me to the Super Bowl and a whole week of Beer and Sunshine. Once again I had managed to get an upgrade and turned left at the door into the Business Class cabin. Having flown this route before in the same class, a review of which can be found below, I knew what to expect...
After settling in, the crew were round with the usual selection of pre flight drinks while the rest of the flight boarded. Once again, I opted for the Champagne, which was the same brand as my previous flight. I can take or leave the bubbles but its somewhat appealing, especially when you are stretching out while reading your life supporting edition of Time magazine.
So, having sucked down a glass of champagne like a dehydrated kid stopping for a water break on a summers day, the smiling crew member was back to fill up my glass, which I sipped a little slower as we taxied out for departure.
Shortly after Departure I had my first real drink of the Vacation. I opted for a Jameson and Ginger and relaxed while the big Aluminium tube hurtled towards the good ol' USA. All in all it was a pretty uneventful flight which passed far to quickly. Its amazing how this is never the case when you fly back in Economy, its almost s if they slow down time. Once I have Shoe horned myself into my seat and had my knee caps shattered by the person in front who can't survive without reclining, the soul destroying announcement of a 6 hour flight time cant even be helped by the arrival of the drinks trolley. As its generally the impossible choice of Budweiser or Heineken! I would rather dehydrate thanks!
The first Whiskey was followed by a glass of Red from Portugal, which was consumed with lunch, along with a another Jameson and Ginger and some canapé's
On arrival in JFK, and with a now, 5 hour layover, thanks to the Captain ripping the arse out of her over the Atlantic. Slow down Man, its an open bar! I sought out the connection desk in an attempt to catch the earlier shuttle to Orlando. This wasn't possible, due in part to my checked baggage. So with some time to kill and some beer to drink, I did a loop of the bars and eateries in the terminal, which although appealing, was loud, busy and somewhat overbearing. This is where I shall admit to a committing a cardinal “Man” sin and asking for directions to the Aer Lingus Business Lounge! I wasn't 100% sure they would let me in but I intended to use my reserve of Irish Charm and chance my arm to see if they would at least take pity on me and allow me to unwind before my "Meetings", obviously
The Lounge was thankfully a short walk away within Terminal 5, about 10 steps away from the point at which I asked directions. Ok, to be honest it was directly behind where I had been standing. The big Shamrock on the door was something of a giveaway. On walking in and climbing the stairs, the noise and bustle was gone. In fact, besides Me and the hostess, there was only one other guy in there.
I quickly tucked my supply of charm into my back pocket as my Boarding pass was swiped, accepted and I was lead into the lounge and advised of the facilities. The Aer Lingus lounge at JFK is well designed with ample seating areas. The small buffet is limited to sandwiches and a few soups, however I found it sufficient for the time I spent there. You can have a meal in there dining area, but it is reserved for those passengers on the departing on the two daily flights to Dublin. It is essentially a large, well apportioned room a flight of stairs above the passenger Terminal but you instantly feel calm and relaxed when you enter.
This is where I made fast friends with IPA Racer 5! It’s a delicious Californian craft beer and was in plentiful supply in the help yourself kitchen. I tried one and moved on to an old favourite, Samuel Adams Boston Lager, which was considered the local brew in this part of the World. It says a lot for a craft lager when makes a classic taste poor and cheap in comparison. I quickly went back to Racer 5 and spent the next few hours sipping excellent beer and eating an assortment of small sandwiches.
Although a five hour layover seems like a long time, when you are drinking free beer and relaxing in brilliant surroundings, well time flies. So it was bit of a shock to find myself out in the main terminal searching for my connection, after what seemed like such a short period of time.
Having managed to find my Gate and obtained a Boarding pass for the flight, I decided to do the sensible thing and have a soft drink to counteract all the Booze. I wasn't drunk by any means but I had a 3 hour flight to contend with and didn't want to risk being marked out for special observations by a keen handling agent, who caught a whiff of Jameson's as I passed by.
I took a seat at what must be the most convenient Airport Bar in the World, situated right at my gate. This is where the "plan" was rewritten. The Barman had a copy of "Whisky & Spirits for Dummies on the back shelf, cleverly covered by an Newspaper, or so he thought. Problem was the spine of the book bearing the title was visible. Deciding to do the decent thing, I found myself ordering another Jameson and Ginger, purely to give the guy some practice. Why I accepted the kind offer to make it a double I will never know. This test of skill ended up costing me $18! Well $36 actually as I had two, just to sure he hadn't fluked it the first time… Is this the most expensive bar in New York?. To be fair The Barman mixed a tasty drink and I did ask him about the book, but for the life of me cant remember what he said. Nothing to do with Booze, that's just age for you
This is me wearing my life saving surgical mask halfway between JFK and Orlando. If you haven't got one of these, then you are at risk!
The flight to Orlando was interesting, thankfully this cheap airline doesn’t charge for drinks or snacks. It turns out I would need something strong! As I boarded and walked through the cabin I could see a couple sitting in the window and aisle seat by the Emergency exit, halfway down the plane. They appeared deep in conversation and were clearly a couple as they were holding hands and she was stroking his head. It did strike me as odd that not only did they have their parachutes on the wrong way round, but they were wearing the kids size! Its strange how alcohol can muddle with your thoughts!
I stopped by the Stewardess and asked what was going on, she was quick to point out that the airline doesn't issue parachute's, before clarifying that they were in fact wearing surgical masks. Clearly then this was some sort of quarantine, but apparently, no, they were merely protecting themselves from Germs. Ok, then! Of course, as luck would have it the free seat beside them, was mine! As you would, I began to feel a bit self conscious. Was it me? How could they have known I would be sat beside them? Actually, they might be in luck, I had six mini Burritos in the Lounge and beans always repeat on me..
As I settled in, a group of High School cheerleaders boarded the flight and took their seats around me. A Woman who seemed to be their chaperone walked the aisle handing out more Surgical Masks to each of her group. With some Dutch Courage I stuck my hand up and requested one, telling her I had left mine at home. Without batting an eyelid, she kindly passed me a mask and in one kind act undoubtedly saved me.
Surgical masks. Apparently it protects you in flight.. Protects you from Germs! I guess those folks may be onto something, but it didn't seem to occur to them that they were wearing a seatbelt that wouldn't be acceptable in a car all while hurtling along at 450mph in a metal tube, 37000ft up in the air.
But no, germs are the danger.. Its at times like these that I am glad I drink. Anyway an otherwise smooth flight was helped by a few more Jameson and Gingers, some of which Ill confess I dribbled down myself after taking a drink and forgetting about my life preserver strapped to my face. Tired, buzzed and germ free, I eventually arrived in Orlando
Thanks to Jet Blue and their excellent JFK based crew who really made the flight!
So Day 1 ended as it had begun some 16 hours earlier, at an Airport. My first night in Orlando was a dry one, although you could argue I had enough fuel on board to keep a lesser man chugging on for days.
I can say nothing but positive things about Jet Blue. Positioned as the low cost, high frills airline, I found their service to be excellent! A great crew and free inflight entertainment coupled with complimentary drinks and snacks, made for a great Ale ound experience! The pilots even left the flight deck on arrival to say goodbye to every passenger!
Remember, please Drink Responsibly! Except when on your Holidays. Its fine to be drunk on Vacation. I think this random lady at Baggage claim would agree.