Lily grimaces at me. “You shouldn’t mock the Bay-hive’ She’s going through an inexplicable Beyonce phase. I’m making up lyrics to “Put a Ring on it’ and singing them loudly through JFK airport.
“If you want to get a snack put a ring on it.”
“If you need a nap put a ring on it”
“La la la la la la”
Emma joins me as we clear security. Lily isn’t amused. She has become sooo much easier to tease now that she’s a teen-ager. “I can’t believe I’m related to you” she says with partial seriousness.
Lily has had only three items on her bucket list since she was about 9. She wants to go to Orlando Disney, because it’s so unfair that she has only been to Disney Paris, Anaheim and Tokyo but never ‘the one closest to home.’ Her second was cruising the Las Vegas strip in a convertible, which we did in 2013. Her third was ‘real’ business class, by which she meant an international trip in lie-flat seats, not the ‘crappy domestic kind’.
Well, kid, don’t say I never gave ya nothin’ because today we are on board an Air India 777 to Delhi India in the first row of Business class. The tickets are frequent flyer mile seats that I got with credit card bonuses and other travel hacking deals. Lily is very happy at the moment, enjoying the complimentary pajamas and dinner menu.
It wasn’t that easy to get in this seat today. United thought it was cool to book a trip where we were to transfer from Newark EWR to Kennedy JFK in 3 hours. We would never have made it but I noticed the night before we left and managed to change our flights so we had more time. And we needed it. The driver dropped us off at the wrong terminal and Air India’s computer systems were a wreck.
I’m new to the Business/First class travel thing myself, having only recently enjoyed my first on my glorious honeymoon with Amanda in Malaysian Borneo and Cambodia. She and I flew Cathay Pacific First Class – which was extraordinary. (I only blog travel with kids, although someday I’ll post the itinerary and pics for that trip because it was special.)
How’s the experience so far? 10 hours into the flight, I can say that lie-flat sleeping on a long international flight is life changing. But the rest of the experience was just meh. The JFK AIr India lounge wasn’t great. They had a few containers of steam table food and a few snacks. The seats were old, the food was terrible (like inedible) and the entertainment was plentiful but the screens were really dark and hard to see.
Complaining? Absolutely not – but I’m glad I didn’t pay for this flight, I’d be dissapointed. On the way back we fly Lufthansa which is supposed to be a lot better. (In the lingo – the hard and soft product of J on LH metal is far superior to IA. Terrible right? I know.)
This trip isn’t an epic one compared to others. The pace is slower, and we aren’t doing anything very adventurous except taking in the tourist sites of north central India. Here’s our basic Itinerary:
- Day 1-2 Arrival in Delhi on Business Class
- Day 3-5 Varanasi – The spiritual center of India and a
- Day 6-7 Kajuraho –
- Day 8-11 Agra – The Taj Mahal
- Day 12-14 Jaipur –
- Day 15 Return
India has an e-visa system that you can do online. It’s really easy and the line was completely empty at the Delhi airport when we arrived at 3pm. Baggage and customs was simple. I expected it to be much worse. We hung out at the Priority Pass lounge (do you know about those? amazing family travel benefit of the Citi Prestige card.) for a while as Emma searched for food. She barely ate on the plane (and didn’t complain a moment.)
The drive to the hotel is short. We are staying at the Dworka Vivanta by Taj, which for $80 a night is really nice. The restaurant is great and they didn’t charge us (maybe accidentally) for a roll-away bed. Emma had the best Chole (chick peas) she’s ever eaten – they were interestingly spiced, with little cumin and no tumeric or cardamom.
“That’s some kind of palate cleanser’ I said, sipping a little bit of the Star anise flavored water with a floating lemon slice. Emma looks at me skeptically, but slowly picks up her spoon to try it. “No no, says the waiter, that is finger bowl for washing.”
‘Oh’ I said. Well, don’t I feel stupid.
I blame it on Jet-lag. Off to Varnasi tomorrow.