Jordan is an Arab country in what is politically known as the Middle East. The country is bordered on the north by Syria, to the east by Iraq, and by Saudi Arabia on the east and south. To the west is Israel and the occupied West Bank, while Jordan’s only outlet to the sea, the Gulf of Aqaba, is to the south. Due to the current unrest in the neighboring countries, there is not a particularly large draw of tourism to Jordan, except for the well-known city of Petra, one of the world’s New 7 Wonders.

Getting to Jordan is no small feat, especially from the West Coast of the US. From LAX to Paris, it is about 10 hours nonstop. I flew Air France which ended up being a pleasant experience for my first time with this airline. Like most trans-Atlantic flights, food and beverages (including wine!) were free and abundant and mid-flight, we were even offered fudge-sicles. The Airbus 380 is a double-decker airplane and I paid the extra $40 to have a seat on the second floor of the plane, which put me slightly more out of the way and with a little bit more legroom – worth the money on a long flight like this!

   The total flight time from LAX to Amman, Jordan is around 15 hrs, not including layover time in Paris.

The total flight time from LAX to Amman, Jordan is around 15 hrs, not including layover time in Paris.

On my second flight, a 5-hour hop from Paris to Amman, I was lucky enough to be bumped up to business class. I put in some legwork ahead of time to try to make this happen and the stars aligned and I must have smiled at the right person when I checked in, because karma was on my side. I’ve never flown anything other than economy class before, so this was an exciting start to my trip. With a gourmet meal, champagne, real cutlery, and a cloth napkin, it was more than I ever expected. I don’t know that I would pay the extra money to upgrade myself, but I’m happy it worked out this way, especially on such a long trip!

Some tips to score yourself a free upgrade:

  1. Become part of the airline’s frequent flyer network. Most times, it’s free to sign up, and there are plenty of perks to members. Air France’s mileage network is called Flying Blue. As your mileage adds up, so do your points and you can get access to priority lounges, free upgrades, first-pass boarding, and more.
  2. Get to the airport early. If you check in early and your flight is full and they need to bump someone, your chances are better if you’re one of the first ones there. And if you’re a member of their frequent flyer program, even better! Your loyalty to them doesn’t often go unnoticed.
  3. Be polite. Please, thank you, and a smile goes a long way, especially in such a busy and demanding area like an airport. The airport staff has to deal with frazzled, stressed-out customers all day long. Patience pays off.
  4. Ask! It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to get bumped up for free out of the blue, but you never know. Stranger things have happened and if you never try you’ll never know!

On landing in Amman, I had to exchange money and pay for a visa in order to clear customs. I got a pretty new stamp in my passport and some pretty Jordanian dinars to go with it.

   The exchange rate is about 0.71 Jordanian dinars to $1 USD.

The exchange rate is about 0.71 Jordanian dinars to $1 USD.

Clearing customs in Amman was a breeze and by that time, I had met up with some colleagues also with the Flying Doctors. We picked up our baggage, and with only one of our bags missing, it was considered a success! A half hour cab ride brought us to our hotel in the center of Amman and we called it a night.

Early the next morning, we shared breakfast and caught up with some other colleagues.

   Our breakfast included fruit (both dried and fresh), beef bacon, eggs and potatoes with spices, fresh salmon, and a variety of salads with eggplant and hummus.

Our breakfast included fruit (both dried and fresh), beef bacon, eggs and potatoes with spices, fresh salmon, and a variety of salads with eggplant and hummus.

First impressions of Jordan are much like my prior experiences in Cairo, mostly given the Arabic influence and similar culture. Today, we will get to spend some time in Amman after we sort our medications for the clinics tomorrow. This part of the world is rich in history and in between work, we will be trying to fit in as many experiences as possible. I look forward to keeping you all updated as my journey unfolds.

With love and gratitude…

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