(I wrote this a long time ago but forgot to hit the publish button)
I flew from Paris to Bucharest yesterday on Air France. The plane was late coming in and the turnaround made us about an hour behind schedule.
I didn’t really think much of it, hour long delays are within a reasonable period. Perhaps if there was a connecting flight and I got stuck… But it was just a direct flight.
I wouldn’t say the delay was transparent, it made me hustle from the airport (crawl in traffic is more like it), check into the hotel, and jump on another taxi to the University for the presentation.
So, here’s the point. I received an email today from Air France apologizing for the hour delay; letting me know it isn’t standard and they are crediting my account 2,000 miles.
Let me assure you that the delay you experienced on this occasion was not in
line with the high levels of service we aim to provide.
As gesture of genuine regret for the inconvenience suffered on this occasion, I
am pleased to inform you that 2000 Miles will be credited to your Flying Blue
account within the next few days.
-Air France Customer Support Email
That’s pretty cool. I have never gotten such an email or apology from American Airlines, Northwest, Southwest, British Airlines, or any other that I’ve used.
I’m writing this while flying from San Francisco to Paris on Air France. I’ve flown this route several times in the past year, but never with such “flavor”. This trip is only half way over, yet the memorable events just keep piling up.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like this flight has been bad. There are no singing nuns, deadly snakes, or poisonous entrees. No, this flight has been filled with those little experiences that make me say to the little gremlin on the wing: “Did that just happen?”
Setting the stage
The flight started off fairly normal. I’ve got a great seat, 32G – a bulkhead aisle seat. The seat next to me is empty and a lady with her toddler sits on the other side of the vacancy. On the other side of the aisle are a couple of elderly women. One of them is frail, the other is quite sprite. Directly behind me is a French couple taking self portraits while strapped into the seats.
The rest of the plane seems to be comprised of inbred American teenagers on at school trip to Paris. No, seriously, they all have this common pie shaped, dough colored look. There is a really ugly set of patriarchs somewhere in California.
Oh, my seat is also a mere 4 feet from the restrooms/self-service area. I’ve got a steady stream of traffic to the right of me.
Hello Mr. open fly
I was treated to several visits from Mr. open fly. We’re not talking simply unzipped. I think this guy thought he was in an adult bookstore and was letting people sample the wares. He paraded up and down the aisles with the fly well open.
It reminded me of a little kid I went to elementary school with. One day he wore overalls to school with no drawers. He delighted in letting the other kids check the contents of his pockets, hint hint, nudge nudge.
Naturally, I didn’t tell Mr. open fly that the corral was open and the horse was ready to escape. Why spoil such pregnant expectations?
The community television screen
I don’t know how we survived without individual television screens on airplanes. God bless jet blue for introducing the masses to such luxuries. Now we can fly blissfully around the world without having to share the joys of Everyone Loves Raymond with a planeful of idiots that actually think its funny.
No, we now have the ability to watch our own selection of movies, tv shows, and other special visual treats. It’s even possible to spend 9 hours watching movies without seeing Owen Wilson’s stupid nose, a “cutting” sitcom with laugh tracks galore, or the standard educational documentary featuring animals tearing each other to pieces.
No, that’s what the community screens are for. Scattered around the plane are little televisions displaying safety messages, animated stewardesses serving scalding hot coffee, maps of the world with the progress of our plane, and a disturbing collection of entertainment. I hadn’t really noticed these television’s content until this flight.
If it bleeds, it leads
I haven’t been watching the screens consistently. I’ve been trying to watch movies on my little personal slice of video heaven. Once in a while, my eye will be distracted by something twittering on the community screen, which sits about 4 feet away, next to the toddler’s suspended bassinet.
The first scene that grabbed my attention was a group of playful piglets trying to jump out of their pen. The pens looked like an farm from an old vampire film: dark shadows, low angle, carefully placed detritus, and a sanitary suspense. Ah look at the cute piggies.
Bam, cut to a butcher’s knife chopping through some anonymous chunk of animal corpse. One second cute piglet, next second a farmers market and dinner for some family.
This documentary then cuts to a pleasant Asian women talking to to the camera. There’s no sound, so she could be discussing the future of world peace in Africa, the art of Owen Wilson films, or the joy of slaughtering piglets. Frankly, I am assuming it is the latter. We continue to watch more scenes from Chinese markets as mysterious chunks of creatures are pulled out of woks, women plucking birds, and dogs running around scavenging for snacks and litter mates, sometimes both at the same time.
Keep in mind this is displayed on banks of televisions scattered around the plane. It’s also on some kind of demented loop. I’ve caught this documentary several times.
The broadcast hits keep on rolling
There was one particular stretch of joyous images that occurred during our meal time. Which reminds me of a particular Thanksgiving memory at the Drake house. We were gathered around the table waiting to dive into the feast.
Naturally the television was on and for some reason it was tuned to a surgery channel instead of the normal Three’s Company marathon. Just as the food was starting to be dished out, a doctor cut open a tumorous organ and a gallon of black bile poured onto the surgical table. Yum, pass the gravy.
So, while I’m diving into my vegetarian in fight meal, the community televisions start displaying a series of bloody images. Tibetans were getting slaughtered, cartoon detectives were shooting bad guys, piglets turned into meat chunks, and the toddler next to me is making his toy ambulance crash into his toy cement mixer. “Would you like some bread with your meal?” You betcha!
The long trip to powder the nose
The frail older lady next to me needed to powder her nose a couple hours ago. This procedure involved several people as we jockeyed positions to make sure she had a clear shot to the bulkhead. Her companion assisted her. Just as she finally gets out of her seat and is heading towards the powder room, passengers from the forward section jump into the toilets and she’s forced to wait for an opening. One of the stewardesses assisted her to the premium lounges. She made it back in good shape and is now sleeping soundly.
And then Little Betty died
Little Betty is the name of my new laptop; a tiny toy of a thing made by Asus. Unfortunately, the battery died mid flight and I wasn’t able to finish documenting this flight. There were several inbred teenagers that liked to hangout at the free sodas in front of my seat. I could describe them for hours. Alas, my post-flight haze is kicking in and they’ll have to escape the brutal knife of my razor sharp wit.