Monday, March 20, 2006

Open Seating

Alas, leaving the 4 Seasons hotel at 9:00 a.m. for the Marka airport (not the Amman Intl) I checked in with immigration, paid my 5 JD dearturre tax. At another counter I checked my 2 bags and did NOT get a receipt. My boarding card had spaces for name, flight #, gate and seat. It was empty except for a handwritten "C-130": I assumed that wasn't my row number.

Boarding. More than an hour later than expected we were told to 'get on the bus' for the short ride to the waiting, cmao-green C-130 4-propeller plane, sitting with it's back end open and several soldires directing us inside.

Window Seat I went in almost first on the left side of the middle column and took the second seat since the first had a helmet on it. The seat was a red nylon base with nylon webbing forming the back and hanging from a pole running the length of the aircraft. Our backs were to the port side of the aircract and we faced across the body - sideways from how one sites in a commercail aircraft. 12 inches from my knees were the knees of a sleepy looking civilian in a baseball cap. Once we took off, a huge soldier strapped in next to me, his sidearm digging in to my hip. As we settled in wearing our required earplugs, most people slept, after the scenery below disappeared I read until 'civilization' reappeared below. I watch up cross the Tigris and start the spiral descent into Baghdad Interantional Airport (BIAP). I had been warned 'don't eat' before the flight, but since I ended up on a military flight instead of a smaller Airserv jet, it was hardly noticeable when we spun into the airport.

The pre-flight briefing. A female soldier told us to fasten our seat belts and explained the oxygen masks, which one puts ocmpletely over their heads and 'breathes normally.' We were also told, that in the event of a requirement to disembark in an emergency my side of the lane was to go to the nearest exit - the gaping backside of the aircraft. The other side would go out the front.

A safe and smooth landing!

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