Getting There Is Still Half the Fun!

The Orange of his Eye: American Airline’s Renee Racicot offering David a home grown orange. Beyond the call of duty.

JACKIE: In the grand old days of luxury travel, “Getting there is half the fun” was the phrase! Today, with all the tedious and seemingly endless security checks – some not too fun at all – the high price of gas for your rental car, the absence of porters at the train, the long, long lines boarding the new gigantic ships (we stick to the smaller ones) and the sometimes petty extra charges by some airlines, getting there can be a pretty dismal affair. Not so at our go-to airline, American. David is off on a wintry jaunt to England while I’m cozy at home, so as they say in Britain, carry on…

DAVID: Once I entered the peaceful oasis of the Flagship Lounge in the Admirals Club at LAX, I settled in with delicious snacks and a drink at hand, all my cares washed away. Now, I could really look forward to getting there as much as being there.

So many kind and helpful members of the American staff at the Club. Also onboard. I almost regretfully left the one and then had high anticipation for entering the other. I was one of the most fortunate of fellow travelers seated in First Class, so I expected and received service second to none. Now, mind you, I’ve traveled in American’s Business Class and in Economy as well and never had a complaint. But First really does make getting there half the fun. What’s that? First or Business is just not in your budget? American’s frequent flyer miles really add up with almost any purchase charged to your program’s credit card. Before you know it, you’ve got enough mileage to fly like the other half do.

Once airborne, the charming Purser, Renee Racicot, offered me an Absolut. When I asked if by any miracle there was a slice of fresh orange to add, she smiled and said, “This is your lucky day; I brought a few from my own garden.” Now, that, friends and neighbors, is service! Next Renee served a bountiful dinner starting with smoked salmon and shrimp, followed by a fresh tossed salad and gourmet breads, and then my choice — from a delicious list of four main courses — of seared Tilapia (liberally washed down with premium Nicolas Feuillatte champagne and a marvelous Chateau Grand Destieu red) and ending with a yummy hot fudge sundae.

Before watching one or more of the recently released movies including The Town, The Social Network and Winter’s Bone on my personal video screen (sound clear and private thanks to Bose headphones), I decided to chat up a few of my fellow passengers. What made them choose American from the many airlines flying to London? Were they flying for pleasure or business? A little bubbly makes me very sociable! Holly Wiener and friend Cindy Cooper were attractive and accommodating. Cindy’s husband, Martin, flies often on business to Europe and Asia. He almost always chooses American. So when the two couples planned this pleasure trip, they followed suit with great anticipation. Holly is enthusiastic about the American personnel, on the phone, at the airport and onboard. Cindy likes the individual TV screens and clean cabins, restrooms and good maintenance. Both couples are members of the Admirals Club and use their Advantage Miles to upgrade. All I can add as emphasis is the gift I received after a good night’s sleep and a bracing breakfast before landing: my new friend Renee handed me an orange from her garden as I was deplaning. That’s the spirit of American Airlines!

JACKIE: While traveling, we pick up special travel tips. One involves the most remarkable way to go by car overseas, something few know about. Before leaving home, David contacted a great group called Wheels in Europe who introduced us to a program called Renault Eurodrive (check their website!) offering short term leases just for non-EU residents. So, David arrived at Heathrow airport with a brand new Renault Megane waiting. He loves it — a good way to start a holiday! Much more later. Til then, we’ll Travel…