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36 Hours of Travel

16/08/2009

I decided it was about time I introduced my wife to my family and showed her the land I grew up in, so we booked a trip to the UK. I’m writing this while in my mum’s bungalow in a place outside Blackpool, England.

It’s currently 6:15am and I’m waiting for everyone else to wake up. Jet lag? Me?

One of the reasons I haven’t been back here in around 5 years is the epic travel time. There’s approximately 23 hours of flying time between Chirstchurch, NZ, and Manchester, UK. But the sitting-in-airports time is not to be underestimated. I started my stopwatch as I left our house in Christchurch and stopped it as I stepped through the door at my mum’s place – 36 hours.

It’s in an airline’s best interests to keep travellers as happy as possible during their long flights. Emirates make a pretty good stab at this with their latest “ICE” system (no it’s not in-car-enterainment, it’s “information, communication and entertainment”. Clever)

Incidentally, before I get into writing about this and everyone starts thinking “He went all the way to England and all he wrote about is the flight?” – I’ll write a few posts covering the stages of my trip and pretty much all I’ve done so far is travelled!

So yeah, here’s what the Emirates ICE system looks like:

Emirates' ICE System

This is the screen that shows the downward video camera. There’s also a camera that looks forwards. There’s something cool about being able to watch the approach to a runway and the landing itself on a video screen. You feel like you should be shouting recommendations to the Captain to correct him on his flight path.

Through this system you can also send messages to other seat numbers. Perfect for passing some abuse around the cabin. Kid behind you keeps kicking your chair? No problem – just send a message to seat 24F – keep kicking the chair and I’ll show you what 32,000 feet of freefall feels like – and the problem’s solved!

Another facility is a USB file viewer. If you have photos or videos on your camera (or even PDF files) and you want to look through your holiday snaps so the creepy bloke sitting next to you can learn more about your trip, you just plug your camera into the USB port and you’re away.

At “night” time, the ceiling lights dim and glow blue and a hundred pin-pricks of light appear in the ceiling. This helps to suggest that the ceiling of the plane has disappeared and you can now view the stars. Something that helps young people sleep and eldery people have panic attacks.

Emirates Plane Ceiling

All in all, one bloody long trip.

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