Thursday, July 26, 2007

homeward bound

I arrived at SF International airport 4 (FOUR!!!!) hours early in order to make sure I had a window seat home. I have a lot of trouble sleeping on planes but if I have the fuselage to put a pillow against then there is a better chance of Morpheus finding me, albeit briefly.

The midget Gestapo officer at United check in barked at me that "window - all gone."

"But...but 4 hours..."

"All gone. You can have aisle seat."

"...4 hours..."

I knew it was pointless to argue with her, I knew by the diagonal scar across her face from eyesocket to chin and the bolts through her neck that she wasnt putting up with any nonesense from some scruffy unshaven interloper looking for a comfortable ride home.

She was also impatiently rapping her luggage marker against her thigh like a riding crop so i meekly pocketed my boarding pass and slunk away.

4 hours.

30 minutes before the flight departure time a voice over the PA announced

"All passengers on UA 838 bound for Sydney please note. The flight is fully booked. So those who where hoping for a seat change Tough Titties. (Im paraphrasing here...) We have overbooked this flight by 17 passengers.

Collective groan.

This usually means finding people to offload.

Then the call came. The one you dread.

"Would Mr. T. Culver please come to the front desk."

I had the uneasy feeling the flight home wasn't going to be easy. I broke into a cold sweat. The woman at the counter asked to see my boarding pass - I handed it to her and right in front of me she ripped it up.

She then handed me another one and said "Mr Culver, as full fare paying passenger we are upgrading you to Business Class. Here is your new seat allocation enjoy your flight."

Take THAT you demon bitch midget check-in troll. ah ha ha ha ah hah ha ha ha...

As it turns out, not only was I Business Class - but I was UPSTAIRS Business Class. (Nyaaah!!) The man in the seat next to me, who introduced himself as Eric from Wyoming, elucidated. Roomier, he said, and you get oh 20-25 flight attendants per passenger upstairs. He books his flight 12 years ahead to make sure he always gets upstairs.

Well I sank into the plush luxury of the UPSTAIRS seats as a bevy of attendants flurried around satisfying our needs. Soon we both had drinks in our hands but before 2 sips had passed my lips, Eric, by way of an extravagant gesture, tipped his entire glass of champagne down my left leg.

He rushed up disappeared and came back with 2 serviettes and an unopened can of soda water. Was he offering me a mixer for my orange juice?

Fortunately I was wearing my trekking pants which have zip off legs so long pants can become shorts.

So not 5 minutes into my foray into middle and upper class luxury airtravel I was in the airplane toilet washing out my trouser legs in the sink.

I guess you can take the boy out of the back packer but not the backpacker out of the boy.

The other thing I found amusing were the two main male flight attendants monitoring our section of Business.

You know how 2 dancers, or ice skaters or even factory workers who work long and hard together can form a harmonious choreography where they seem almost like an individual unit, as opposed to two seperate beings?

Well these two were the antithesis of that.

They were a bumbling, forgetful and clumsy couple that reminded me of a Laurel and Hardy type duo - except one looked like Hiro from Heroes and the other resembled someone who was trying very hard to look like a retired English Army Major.

At one stage there was a crash of glasses and crockery as their two trolleys collided in the aisle and I glanced up from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows to observe a cherry tomato rolling slowly down the centre of the aisle veering away to settle somewhere under seat 15B.

Several times Hiro would approach me start to say something and then utter. "Oh..umm..oh" and then back away. (I think it was me being Vegetarian and not on their official passenger list that threw them into confusion)

But having settled back into the fully extended seat which felt like an entire single bed on a slight downward slope I could have dealt with anything.

And so I slept.

And now Im home.


Monica said...

I know Mr Culver, that your trip has ended, but I just had to make a comment on your clever slip of Harry Potter.

It seems that even though travelling half way around the world, Harry's magic still ends up getting to you : D

Monica Hu : D

Kylie said...

*Laugh*...I am laughing with you of course and not at you. I have been offloaded in the US more times than I care to weep about, so being upgraded would have been a lovely bonus. It got to a point- that I used to just saunter up to the check-in before announcements were even made and advise the staff that I was here, and which alternative airline did they have to offer me today!

Pedro said...

Cool stuff Terry! And just yesterday i was in a jumbo and thinking... i've never been upstairs!!
Thanks for the pacaya pics, and see you around, surely. It's such a small world!