I love these long overnight hauls across the Atlantic. There’s a constant hum that fades with auditory acclimation, as with any airplane trip. Everyone is either asleep or working on it. The flight attendants edge around passengers standing and stretching. And there seems to be a lot less turbulence on these flights than on my typical domestic flights. (I don’t know if it’s the ocean and accompanying winds, the quality of the aircraft, my imagination, or my mere lack of experience – I’ve been on seven of these flights, now – but the “fasten seat belts” sign is switched off a lot more often than it’s switched on for these transatlantic flights.
There’s also the blackness of everything outside of the plane, though in summer, the Arctic route means that the Sun never quite sets. It’s April now, and it’s black outside through at least the middle portion of the flight. After handing out hot towels to all passengers (am I doing it right?), the crew aboard the Lufthansa flight is careful to instruct everyone (somewhat forcefully) to close his or her blinds, and it’s dark inside. We did this prior to sunset – since we left Denver in mid-afternoon for a 10-hour flight set to arrive around 10 in the morning in Munich – so an artificial sunset was required. We caught up to daylight, however, and daylight has come sooner than feels right according to circadian rhythms. The breakfast helped. Very friendly crew on Lufthansa. Because I often can’t sleep on airplanes, and I know this about myself, it’s not a problem that I’m already planning sleeping from early evening through the night tonight after I get to Amsterdam. This is most definitely the longest travel day I’ve ever had. I’ll convert it all in Central European Time for comparison’s sake. I left my house at two in the afternoon (though it surely felt like 6am to me) and I’ll arrive at my hostel sometime around 5 this evening (+1 day). That’s a long journey. I’ll be glad to arrive and to sleep.
PSA: of course, I do not like standing in these lines, but when I got to the automated kiosks, I remembered the pains I had in 2015 attempting to use a credit card to buy light rail and streetcar tickets from a kiosk. Word to the wise: have coins with you for the kiosks or risk these lines, as I had to; don’t count on your (USA) credit card – even your chip card, which you should have for any Europe trip.