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True Confessions of a Worldly Mileage Maniac

March 04, 1990|MARK S. WEXLER | Wexler is a free-lance photographer living in New York City . The photographs used in this story, with one exception, were taken by a self-timing device that allowed Wexler to appear in the pictures

I once asked how we, as passengers, look to the cabin crew. "When I walk down the aisle I see little chickens looking up with their tongues hanging out, waiting to be fed," a French flight attendant told me. "They eat and, hopefully, they sleep."

I was a willing chicken, consuming such fare in the air as Sevruga caviar, medallions of veal and souffle Grand Marnier. No doubt about it, the meals in first-class were truly first-class. The way I looked at it, eating well in the plane kept me from always having to depend upon unknown eateries on the ground.

I wasn't with the riffraff chickens in coach, but reclining in a very comfortable sleeper seat in first-class. Spending as much time aloft as I did, I had to be very careful to maintain my health. The air inside the cabin is as dry as the Gobi Desert, and it's important to drink as much as eight ounces of water an hour so you don't dehydrate.

The cabin is also pressurized to the equivalent of 6,000 feet above sea level, which can play funny tricks on the body. I found that after taking my shoes off at the beginning of a flight, they would swell up considerably by the end.

As I neared the end of my 30 days I was losing track of where I'd been and where I was going. So many different foreign coins were jangling in my pocket (you can only exchange bills) that I listed to one side as I walked. At the market in Istanbul, I simply held out a handful of change and let the shopkeeper pick out the right coins.

It was a strange way to see the world. I'm probably one of the few people who, for 30 days, saw most of it six miles up. The maximum time I spent on the ground in any one destination was two days. More often it was one day, which gave me just about enough time to see some of the major tourist sights and gulp down a cup of coffee at one of the local cafes.

In Kenya I stayed at the Fig Tree Camp in the Masai Mara Game Reserve and went on a daylong safari. In New Orleans, chef Paul Prudhomme gave me a three-minute cooking lesson, and in Istanbul I took a Turkish bath for two relaxing hours before heading to the airport and the flight back to Frankfurt, my unofficial home away from home.

My only real disappointment of the trip was that after logging nearly 60,000 miles, none of it counted toward new frequent flier mileage.

Global Notebook of Trivia

Dollar value of WorldPass 30 flights: $27,727.

Air miles logged: 58,610.

Flight hours logged: 136 hours, 58 minutes.

Average miles flown weekly: 10,522.

Cities toured: 16.

Airports waited at: 21.

Seat belt announcements heard: 66.

In-flight movies watched: 16.

Bags of peanuts consumed: 74.

Times carry-on luggage was X-rayed: 54.

Times watch was reset: 24.

Complimentary soap bars collected: 70.

Number of currencies in pocket simultaneously: 7.

Around the World Flight Itinerary

March 6 London-Hamburg

March 7 Hamburg-Berlin

Berlin-Frankfurt

Frankfurt-New Delhi

March 9 New Delhi-Frankfurt

Frankfurt-Moscow

March 10 Moscow-Frankfurt*

Frankfurt-Istanbul

March 13 Istanbul-Frankfurt

Frankfurt-Budapest

March 14 Budapest-Frankfurt

Frankfurt-Warsaw

March 15 Warsaw-Frankfurt

March 16 Frankfurt-Nairobi

March 19 Nairobi-Frankfurt

Frankfurt-Athens

March 21 Athens-Frankfurt

Frankfurt-Paris

(via local airline)*

March 23 Paris-New York City

March 24 New York City-Rio de Janeiro

March 26 Rio de Janeiro-Miami

Miami-San Francisco

March 28 San Francisco-Los Angeles

Los Angeles-Honolulu

March 29 Honolulu-Los Angeles

March 30 Los Angeles-New York City

March 31 New York City-New Orleans

April 1 New Orleans-New York City

April 2 New York City-Washington

Washington-New York City

April 3 New York City-St. Maarten

April 8 St. Maarten-New York City

* Air fare paid by passenger.

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