Saturday, April 12, 2008

Air Canada, eh?

With all the news about canceled flights and airlines going under (aloha, Aloha), I thought I would write something positive about the industry that takes me where I want to go.

I love travel, but squeezing my 6'2" body into a coach seat for as much as 16 hours (Mumbai-New York) has yet to become something I look forward to. When I flew to Italy last year to visit my sister, I was prepared for a quasi-night of restlessness only to arrive in Rome in the morning ready for bed.

I flew Air Canada, and the trip from San Francisco to Toronto arrived on time. I ate my last cheeseburger for 10 days and got ready to board my plane to Rome.

It was delayed. All of us were sent to another gate, where our new plane supposedly arriving from the hangar never showed. Then we went back to the first gate and boarded the original plane - now apparently mechanically sound.

I got my boarding pass printed, and the ticket said, "5K." I tried to picture the layout that would allow 11 seats per aisle.

I was all the more puzzled when I saw the first 10 rows or so were first class. My ticket was for coach. With the feeling that I was about to be cruelly teased, I hesitantly approached the inexplicably numbered "5K," which sat in the middle of a three-seat row.

The "seat" looked like a small cubicle and had an electrically articulating seat, a real pillow and a down blanket, not to mention the flip-out TV screen.

I stood in the aisle, blocking it like an idiot. The flight attendant came up and asked me if there was a problem. I think I motioned to my ticket and pointed to the seat. She laughed and said, "Yes, this is your seat."

I wasn't about to argue. I sat down and snickered as all the other passengers trudged to coach.

Because the plane I had been ticketed for was in a different configuration than the one that actually pulled up to the gate, I was automatically bumped to the world of the wealthy. On the LCD screen that flipped out, I could watch more than 40 movies or set up playlists from more than 2,500 tracks.

But what did I do? I read for an hour, reclined my seat into a bed and didn't wake up until breakfast was served somewhere over the U.K. or France.

I was four hours late to Rome, but rather than resembling a narcoleptic, I was well-rested and ready to catch up with my sister in the Eternal City.


Elizabeth Anne said...

I just had a random encounter with your blog. You are a nice writer. Keep it up; live the dream, man.

NorCal Cazadora said...

Sadly, I've flown first class only once, and it was on a redeye flight. I slept through the whole first leg, and the second leg - a 6 a.m. from Detroit to Richmond, Va., - was violated by a flight attendant who sat there yapping with the guy next to me for the whole flight. That was still 3 a.m. for me, but so much for my remaining Zzzz's. Wah!