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Aircraft: Ilyushin IL-62M Class: Economy

LOT Il-62 SP-LBB on take-offI've told it, wrote it, repeated it hundreds of times. My first and unique experience with LOT marked me forever. I wouldn't probably be writing this, I wouldn't probably be on the net, I wouldn't be speaking French and English if on this beautiful sunny day, my mother and her two children didn't take the one-way 8-hour flight to Montreal, Canada.

When we look back and recall the events that led to our emigration, my father often says we had the choice between KLM (landing in Amsterdam) and non-stop flight with LOT. Because nobody of us three (mother, me, sister) was speaking Dutch or even English and because we (the children) were too young to even help mother with the luggage, my mother wrote to my father, already in Canada, and chose LOT. "I would rather fly on old Russian planes than be lost in Amsterdam", would she say. Weeks before the flight, my mother told me a story she heard from a friend. Travelling onboard a LOT Ilyushin IL-62, a woman located a hole under the seat. Not to scare her neighbor, she hide it with her shoe all the trip long... I don't think the Russian planes were that bad. Of course - for those who traveled on those aircraft - the decoration was everything but modern; the comfort, incomparable with the new machines but they weren't THAT bad.

The service at the airport wasn't fantastic. The plane, being delayed, we were resting on the luggage, waiting 2 hours, after a trip of 10 hours from Dzierzoniow. Even at the airport, my Polish life was left behind. As young as I was, I tried to imagine the airport in Canada, the country that "is even better than Germany and where everything is so perfect". I remember seeing the airport terminal like a bus stop in Poland with its plastic yellow top.

The service on board was excellent, according to my mother. Nice, beautiful stewardesses taking care of us, children. I do remember that the women brought us coloring books, "Junior Steward" pins and in the evening, socks. My mother ordered drinks.

- "Co pani sie napije?" showing cans of Pepsi, Coca-Cola, 7Up...
- "Siedem Up." my mother answered. :-)

When we were asking if she was scared, my mother would answer that she wasn't. Now, she tells me she was very scared but didn't want to scare us off. To go to the toilet was a challenge. When she came back with my sister, I decided to go... she was dying :-)

I do remember I was scared before take off not knowing what to expect; I was pissed off before landing, after the traditional, "fall" and descent.

The flight was calm and smooth... there was no movie aboard and needless to say I didn't ask for safety cards and in-flight magazines.

Although mythical, I enjoyed the flight and have a very good impression. A few weeks later, LOT retired the Ilyushin IL-62M from service. Five years later, the airline left us, just like a mother leaving their mature children in a country that was now theirs.

Since then, I became a huge LOT amateur and collect everything related to the airline. I never visited Poland and miss it like hell... I'm sure I would be scared to fly now as I become more and more aware of the crashes and mechanics of flight.

When I think what would life be for me in Poland, I have tears in my eyes. I imagine myself, a totally different person, ...

I'm not telling it's so sad and bad to live in Poland but flight LO015 completely changed my life.

  Thomas Szymanski