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Manchester Airport, © Free Foto

June 21 – The Longest Day of the Year
Across the Pond (Continued)

We join our intrepid traveler still aboard Flight 196 to Manchester. Bear with me; we'll be in England soon.

Robin had told me that on all of her transatlantic flights there would be a quiet period of about three hours where everyone would be fed, settled, and if not sleeping, at least dozing; unless there was a fussy baby aboard, which thankfully, there is not on this flight. What there is, is turbulence: White-knuckle, remember the jet flying to Hawaii that dropped 15,000 feet in altitude all at once turbulence.

People are lined up in the aisles for the lavatories (I feel quite the center of attention at this point) when the jet begins to shake – not just vibrate, but shake. Things are falling; there is a clatter I can't identify. Then comes the flight attendant's voice over the speaker, calmly, as she'd been trained. "The captain has lit the seatbelt sign. All passengers please return to your seats and fasten your seatbelts." Most people do this; a few do not.

Rumble, rattle, shake. "Return to your seats and SIT DOWN NOW!" comes the suddenly not-so-calm voice. I handle this disruption well. I am so sleep and food deprived that I really don't care if we plummet into the ocean below. If we do, I won't get anything to eat, but at least I'll get some rest.

More turbulence worth noting as we fly over Ireland, not so bad this time, and many release a sigh of relief when it's over almost as soon as it begins. Then comes the welcome announcement that we are beginning our descent into Manchester. I sit up and crane my neck for a look, but so do the people in the seats across the aisle who have the window. I see nothing but the backs of their heads until we are almost on the ground. A fleeting glimpse of other aircraft and terminal gates rushes past the tiny portal.

Whoosh, like sheep driven to the slaughter, the flight attendants direct us off the plane. I trail behind my fellow travelers in a dreamlike state, sail through Immigration, answering the requisite questions as to the length and purpose of my stay, then head toward baggage claim.

By the time I locate the carousel there are people three and four deep surrounding it, searching for and claiming their bags. I wander around to the little door where the bags first appear on the conveyor belt and, like magic, just as I arrive, out comes my bag. It is perfect timing and I am so pleased that I won't have to wear the same four days worth of clothes for my entire trip.

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