Bell Flight Saga.....
On Thursday morning, every room was up and in the hotel lobby at 4:00 am ready to board a bus for New York and JFK Airport. We had 38 passenger limousine buses that I know Riteway has and sometimes see groups using around Germantown. Some of the students/Parents were able to sleep on the bus others were updating their favorite status.
Unfortunately, it was still dark and rainy when we arrived New York. Many of the big and visible sights were just big and not visible. We could see lots of lights and could tell it was a big city, but nothing specific. As a child, my parents would read a book to me called “The Great Gray Bridge and the Little Red Light House.” The bridge is the George Washington Bridge and today, I rode across it. Although I would have rather been in Rome, it was pretty cool.
For ticketing reasons, we were split into a group of 50 and a group of 18. This was done back in October. American Airlines had a computer issue and needed to reissue tickets to the group of 50. This lead to another delay. They did have a special check in counter for us with six agents working. Eventually, we all got boarding passes.
TSA agents were able to take us through our own security line. They helped us get through in an orderly and quick pace. But with the ticketing snafu, they had already started seating the plane before we were all through security. Our gate was quite close and all made it with time to use the restroom before boarding. American Airlines did have tables of snacks (chips, cookies, granola bars, fruit, soda, water, juice) for us and we could take them on the plane.
The plane is a fairly new Boeing 777. The only passengers are band members from Germantown and Manatee High School in Bradenton, FL. They were on our same flight and at a Double Tree hotel near the airport. Each seat as a video screen with 100’s of movies, tv shows, music options and flight information. As soon as were had reached altitude, we were fed a hot meal. The students were able to move about and sit next to their friends. The plane is configured with 3-3-3 or 3-4-3 across seating. Very few of the rows are full. The flight crew is keeping us out of first class.
I have been in contact with Mr. Stone and our tour guides in Rome. We are making some changes to the itinerary for later in the week. Our first goal is to make sure everyone gets to visit the Vatican. We all want to make sure the students see the most important sights of Rome.
Our first full day with all the students is Friday. The performances will happen as planned. It will be a great way to say get the blood going and be back as one band.
I have been “texting buddy” with the Manatee H.S. band director. It has been frustrating for both schools. Band parents are the same all over the county and his spent Wednesday on social media. Their local news also had coverage of the trip. They told us that we even made the Philadelphia newscast. Social media and news exposure were factors in getting our current flight.
2 hours to landing. My next post should be written in ROME!!