Dave Leggett | 16 April 2007
Flying to Detroit today really was something. There were reminders that flying now is becoming, in some ways, a deeply unpleasant experience. The check-in queue (for the one daily Northwest flight out of London Gatwick) was absurdly long and slow moving. Even if you did the self-service check-in thing with a machine and got your boarding pass, you still had to join the queue to get any baggage checked in (no ‘fast drop’).
Please forgive the rant, but I was in a check-in queue for over an hour. And then there was another humungous people jam at the X-ray machines. Bottom line: I was in the airport terminal over two hours before take-off and by the time I cleared the queues to get ‘airside’ it was time to get on the plane. Queuing like that is demoralising.
And then, a little miraculously, things picked up. The Northwest aircraft was a nice new Airbus A330. The in-flight meal was definitely above average. And there was an interactive entertainment thing going on that meant you had loads of viewing and listening choice and, crucially, that you can select what you want when you want and do things like pause the big movie. I normally fly British Airways long haul and last time I did BA they didn’t have this. The new blockbuster about the evils of the diamond trade in Africa starring Prius-loving Leonardo wasn’t half bad.
It was still eight long hours to pass, but the interactive entertainment certainly helped.
Upon landing the US immigration officer was even kind to me when I messed up a form, filling in bits of it for me rather than making me do it all over again. Yes, things were unquestionably looking up. I then found my pre-arranged press-loan vehicle with minimal fuss. As I thundered down I-94, happily reacquainting myself with road names like Inkster and Telegraph, the Ford Edge didn’t seem to me like a softy. (I’m staying at the Hilton DoubleTree in Dearborn; loads of Chinese staying here for SAE.)
The Ford Edge is an interesting one. To me, a European not used to such things, the subtlety of ‘crossover’ status is perhaps a little lost. It’s got a 3.5L V6, you sit pretty high and it seems to me like a pretty big SUV, pure and simple. I wouldn’t want to chuck it around corners, but there again, the people who buy it wouldn’t dream of doing that either. The styling is, to be fair, much softer and more car-like than many other SUVs. And if it wows American consumers then that’s the point.
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