When you enter this god forsaken industry we fondly refer to as travel, we often think of the bad and the ugly. If you have been in it long enough, you wonder what happened to the seat side carving table of wonderful meats at 35,000 feet. And then there are those experiences on the ground. In the end, you realize why you love it so. I thought I would share with you some recent experiences:
Flying Aer Lingus: There are two reasons why I love flying this airline. The first are the people. The Irish just always seem to be happy people, but more than that, they have a keen sense of humor. I think it is a perfect fit for me. On my last flight with them I am pretty sure everyone that heard my jokes, quips, and sarcastic comments, reacted with a laugh or a smile. They were not just being nice, were they? Oh, and the second reason I love this airline? I get to fly through Ireland - which may be one of my favorite producers of Whiskey. Guess where I did a little duty free shopping?
Flying United: Imagine sitting in International First Class, and 90 minutes after takeoff, there is no sign of life from the flight attendants. Nothing. Sitting next to a moderately intoxicated person who needs her next drink, and rings her call button, only to be met with "we will serve you when we are ready." Then following the meal, and after dropping a couple of Ambien's with those vodkas, the magical disappearance of the flight attendants again takes shape. Who will make the bed up of this poor drunk and drugged person? Why her seat mate. True story from a friend. Once again a US carrier exceeding expectations for their most valued clients.
Flying Lufthansa: I am sure most of you have heard the term "preserving" a particular class of service - that is the concept where some airlines would rather fly a plane with empty seats in the premium cabins rather than upgrade the peasants from business or coach class. In fact I have a friend who flew first class in LH, and he was the ONLY person up there - eight seats in total if I remember correctly, and seven were empty. But the service must be the same (people, it is a German airline) so the caviar cart - meals options (four cooked, one consumed) - multiple desserts - all done for one person. So why would you not take the individual that works for a big client or full paying business class passenger and upgrade them to First? I cannot believe the cost of the food is that much more expensive. And the goodwill created could last a lifetime - I mean even if you can get those few lucky ones upgraded and sell more coach seats. I just do not get it.
Shopping in Dubai: I had the pleasure of visiting Dubai a few years ago, and while I will never go again unless it is to connect to another flight, this is one of those experiences that can scare the crap out of you. I was with an industry colleague that wanted a handbag - but not a real one - but one that looked like a real one. So off we go to the shopping district and upon communicating our intentions, we were lead to the back room, then to hidden stairs, then to an attic where the double secret shopping room was. I thought I was dead - especially when we did not purchase anything. But I made it out.
Eating in France: So on my last night in Paris, I went to dinner with some good friends, and we landed in a small, family owned bistro. With just 38 seats, you can imagine how small it was - and there was even a hidden staircase to the basement that came up through the end of the bar. It was just so cool watching wine come up from the basement (but they never went down those stairs, which was perplexing). It was a wonderful dinner with many laughs - including a magnum of wine because they ran out of normal bottles - and overall a good time. We reached the dessert portion of the meal and we were asked to get up, and retreat to a special place to have dessert. Oh shit.
We were lead back to the kitchen - and as the kitchen staff of two prepared meals for those that arrived after us - we watched for a couple of moments in awe before we were lead to the basement - or as I like to call it, "The Lair". O.M.G. This is a basement that has been around for 300 or 400 years, covered in dust and grime, oh and a few hundred bottles of wine and liquor. There was a turntable and albums and the five of us just chilled for a good hour enjoying the experience. Well that and some more wine and after dinner drinks that no one liked but me. Then we arose back upstairs through the secret staircase in the bar and out. Boy did we get some looks when we came out.
We were asked by the owner to not share the name of the restaurant for fears this "experience" would be requested by future visitors. So it shall remain a secret. But this was a lesson for me of why we all travel. Bon Voyage!