Saturday, May 05, 2012

Diamond in the Rough

I've not been looking forward to this trip back from Hong Kong to LA.  I'm not sure why, unless it was the time spent living in Palau.  When we lived in Palau, we were somewhat trapped as far as airlines were concerned.  It was Continental or nothing.  And, for whatever reason, those flights were some of the most miserable of my existence.  From Koror to Guam was just a short flight, but one arrived there at 5:30 am or so, and that was after not sleeping the night before.  Then on to Hawaii, LA, Houston and wherever.  It was always crowded and miserable.  One item that made it more so was the always possibility of being upgraded to business one one of the legs of the journey.  It was always the shortest leg possible.  Then the rest of the time there was hope.  And if you have hope for upgrade in one hand and Bedoodoo in the other, guess which hand is full.
But on the way out this time from LA to Hong Kong, I had an Aisle seat and managed to keep my knees unfolded a few times and arrived in HK with an excitement and freshness of a college student.  But then when I was getting a seat assignment from Manila to HK to LAX, I got bulkhead from Manila and Exit row from HK.  I looked forward to Bulkhead and dreaded Exit Row.  Had that backwards.
The bulkhead was actually appropriate for persona dwarfoma.  I couldn't even put my feet under the seat in front of me.  It would have been fine for knees if I had just ended there.  And as for Exit row, it was Window and wide body type exit row, meaning that the door in front of me would have built into it the Queen Elizabeth II size life raft and again there would be no place for my legs.  
When I got to the Airport in Hong Kong, I asked to move.  They said there was only one empty seat on the plane, and it was a center seat.  I gave up.
At boarding time, I sat behind the QEII door and waited for the person who would no doubt be more than ample and who would mould me into my 13-hour position when they arrived.  The gentleman of the Aisle seat had on head phones and didn't wish to be the beneficiary of my abundant knowledge and vast experience.  I waited.
Then the flight attendant came and knelt before the Aisle occupier.  She introduced herself told him how happy she was to be able to serve him.  She assured him that she had followed his request and had blocked the seat between us from being taken by anyone, and that she and her fellow attendants would try to keep any noise down in this area.   I sat in wonder.  He explained to me that he is a Diamond Class member of Cathay Pacific, and can make such requests.  The result, at meal times the flight attended would come and ask if we had anything special we would like to eat or drink.
So as to avoid the obvious (treating him like a diamond and me like a lump of coal), my name was asked and I was addressed by name and given choices as if I were actually diamond, and not just in the same setting.  I will always wonder why they didn't play a fanfair of any sort and excort us amid applause of the onlooking passengers of lesser personage, to first class and tuck us into a comfort zone of which often dream.  But they didn't.
The captain has just announced that we have begun our descent into LA.  I can say, having watched a movie, the Iron Lady, some TV and slept and eaten, that the flight seemed short enough.  Even the baby across the Aisle was not allowed to cry during the night and I am well pleased and ready to see Ben and Bess at the Airport